Disgraced Houston couple could be headed to prison

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by Dave Fehling / KHOU 11 News.

khou.com

Posted on June 24, 2011 at 11:42 PM

HOUSTON – A Houston couple used to be among Houston's elite, but all that changed when they were convicted of ripping off high-society friends.

Now prosecutors say the disgraced couple could soon be back in custody and headed to prison. 

Jerry Hart and his wife Wynonne were auctioneers to some of Houston's richest residents over a decade ago, but then, some of their customers whose possessions had been sold, weren't paid.

"We need to get our money back, if we don't that's fine, but they need to go to jail," said victim John Zielinski back in April of 2009.

But the Harts would not go to jail. Even after a deal in which they pled guilty to defrauding a long list of customers out of over $3 million, and even though a judge sentenced the couple to 14 years in prison.

Apparently shocked at the lengthy sentence, they got new attorneys who convinced a Houston judge to throw out the guilty plea.

And while they didn't return to what had been their million-dollar home off Memorial, they did not have to report to prison.

A bail bond led KHOU 11 News to an apartment complex near the Galleria. It's where the Harts listed their mailing address when they were released on bond in 2009. It's unclear if they lived there and their attorney would only say they're now living somewhere in Houston.

But for how long?

In April, an appeals court ruled the Harts did, in fact, get a fair deal and so it re-instated their convictions. Prosecutors, and even one of their own attorneys, were quoted as saying the Hart's would soon head to prison.
   
Yet, they have not.

When we asked the DA's office, it started checking, and said it was odd the couple wasn't in custody but said, "would be soon."

Their newest attorney told KHOU 11 News that the DA is wrong and that the Harts should remain free since he's asking the appeals court to re-hear the case.

Like their disputed auctions, their court case seems to be no done deal.   

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