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Tom DeLay's Money Laundering Conviction Overturned by Tex. App. Ct.

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By Brett Snider, Esq. on September 23, 2013 3:51 PM

Tom DeLay may avoid prison for money laundering after all, especially after a ruling late last week by a Texas appellate court to overturn his conviction.

According to The Washington Post, the disgraced former U.S. House Majority Leader was "on [his] knees praying" at the National Prayer Center in D.C. when he received the news.

The saga of DeLay's criminal charges has lasted almost a decade since his indictment. Will this be its final chapter?

DeLay's Conviction for Money Laundering

Former Congressman DeLay's criminal charges began with a 2005 indictment by a Texas grand jury charging DeLay with conspiring with other Texas Republicans to funnel $190,000 of corporate campaign funds into a Republican PAC.

Five years later, DeLay was convicted of money laundering and conspiracy, and vowed to appeal the "terrible miscarriage of justice." Fast-forward another three years and DeLay has managed to slip the noose for his alleged election fund mishandling. But how did this Texas Houdini manage to stay out of prison?

Insufficient Evidence for Conviction

DeLay was convicted under conspiracy to commit money laundering of $100,000 or more under Texas Penal Code Section 34.02, a second degree felony which could have landed him in prison for up to 20 years.

In the Texas Third District Court of Appeals decision on DeLay's case, the court found that it could not uphold DeLay's conviction because it lacked sufficient evidence to meet the required elements. The sticking point for the DeLay court was the predicate offense for the money laundering charge -- violating Texas elections laws -- could not have been found, based on an insufficiency of the evidence presented to the jury.

It's as confusing to us as apparently it was to the jury, but the appellate court felt that DeLay's actions were not actually in violation of Texas election laws, and thus he was actually conspiring to launder "clean" money.

USA Today reported that the Travis County District Attorney's Office would attempt to appeal the decision, but for now, DeLay is free to attend some totally legal lunches with conservative colleagues in the nation's capital.

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