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Eric G. Andell, a former juvenile and appeals court judge in Houston, was sentenced on July 29 to a year of unsupervised probation on a misdemeanor criminal charge in connection with expense reports filed with the U.S. Department of Education. U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson of Washington, D.C., also sentenced Andell, a former official with the U.S. Department of Education, to 100 hours of community service and ordered him to pay a $5,000 fine. In April, Andell pleaded guilty before Robinson to one misdemeanor count of conflict of interest, a violation of 18 U.S.C. §208 (a). Andell, now working as a mediator in Houston, faced a maximum sentence of one year in prison, a $100,000 fine and three years of supervised release. Andell earlier paid $8,659.85 in restitution, according to a plea bargain he signed in March. Andell did not, before presstime, return a telephone message left at his office. Eric Delinsky, a criminal-defense lawyer for Andell, says his client is satisfied with the sentence. “We’re very, very happy, and it’s the fair result, the result we expected,” says Delinsky, of counsel at Zuckerman Spaeder in Washington. “I know Eric is very pleased to have this matter behind him, and he is clearly looking forward to continuing with his mediation and arbitration practice in Texas,” says Richard Mithoff, of Mithoff Law Firm in Houston, who also represents Andell. Susan Park, a trial attorney with the public integrity section of the criminal division of the U.S. Department of Justice who signed the plea bargain with Andell, did not return a telephone call seeking comment before presstime on Aug. 4. SHOW OF SUPPORT According to his Factual Basis for Plea, Andell approved travel for himself at government expense on about 14 occasions, to Houston, Austin, New York, Detroit and Columbus, Ohio, that included some travel for personal reasons. The trips were motivated in part by Andell’s personal and financial interests, “including his desire to accrue service time toward receipt of a pension from the State of Texas,” according to the factual basis. On some of the trips in question, the government reimbursed part of Andell’s personal expenses, and on several trips, Andell requested and was paid his government salary under sick leave when he was also paid by the state of Texas for working as a visiting judge, according to the factual basis. The factual basis says Andell should not have authorized or approved the trips because of his financial interest. Prior to his sentencing on July 29, a sentencing report Delinsky filed on Andell’s behalf included letters of support from 30 individuals, including a number of prominent lawyers in Texas. Those lawyers include Kelly Frels and Patrick Oxford, partners in Bracewell & Giuliani in Houston; J. Kent Friedman, general counsel of Houston-based Maxxam Inc.; Houston criminal-defense attorney Philip Hilder; T. Gerald Treece, a professor at South Texas College of Law, and Judge Olen Underwood, the administrative judge for the 2nd Administrative Judicial Region of Texas. Former Houston Mayor Bob Lanier and Nancy Rapoport, dean of the University of Houston Law Center, are among others who wrote letters. Before working for the Department of Education, Andell, a Democrat, was judge of the 315th District Court from 1985 to 1993, and then a justice on the 1st Court of Appeals in Houston. He lost a bid for re-election in 2000. He moved to Washington in July 2001, initially as a senior adviser for then-Secretary of Education Rod Paige, a former superintendent of the Houston Independent School District. From November 2002 to September 2003, Andell was deputy undersecretary for safe and drug free schools.

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