A chiropractor, an investigator and state Rep. Ron Reynolds, D-Missouri City, appeared in court Monday accused of plotting together to illegally solicit clients for Reynolds and patients for the chiropractor.
After they were arraigned, lawyers for the three said their clients are innocent.
"I stand in front of you wrongfully accused, personally and professionally embarrassed by the unfortunate allegations against me," Reynolds, 38, told reporters. "I have not committed barratry."
Barratry, a third-degree felony, is the criminal charge levied for the unlicensed practice of law or directly soliciting prospective clients for lawyers, doctors, chiropractors and other licensed professionals.
The law, designed to prohibit "ambulance chasing," means attorneys may advertise, but cannot target individuals to solicit. If convicted, Reynolds faces two to 10 years in prison.
Reynolds, Bellaire chiropractor Tony Ha and a marketer named Adriene Kae Anderson are accused of soliciting personal injury clients and patients.
Prosecutor Wendy Baker said a Houston lawyer who was in a car wreck received a call from a woman, allegedly either Anderson or one of her associates, about the wreck. Because the lawyer knew direct solicitation was illegal, she played along then contacted authorities, Baker said.
The lawyer was scheduled for an appointment at Ha's office, although she said she was not hurt.
When she arrived at the medical office, Baker said, she was asked to fill out an attorney-client form for Reynolds to represent her.
When she was seen by the chiropractor, she said she was not hurt, Baker said. She said Ha pressed on her until she said she was in pain, then scheduled her for repeated sessions.
Baker said the phone solicitation, the legal document at the office and pressure to return to the chiropractor were part of one scheme to snare clients and patients.
Attorneys for Ha and Anderson said the telephone solicitation and the legal document were legal types of marketing.
"That's what we were doing: marketing," said Ha's attorney, Bob Bennett. "There's nothing illegal, immoral or unethical about that."
He said the group was following rules set up by the State Bar of Texas and the Texas Chiropractic Association.
"We think the charges against Dr. Ha are ludicrous because no barratry was performed," Bennett said. "No money was taken, no checks were written and Dr. Ha was trying to practice medicine as he knows it."
David Lee, who represents Anderson, said he also expects his client to be cleared.
By Brian Rogers, email@example.com
Source: The Houston Chronicle