FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Travis County Justice of the Peace Nicholas Chu JP Precinct 5 was convicted on May 5 of tampering with a government record.
A Tarrant County jury found Chu, who was justice of the peace for Precinct 5 from 2010-2022, guilty on three counts of falsifying records. The visiting Judge sentenced him to four years' probation, 10 days in jail and a $25,000 fine. The judge also required Chu to write a 50-page essay apologizing to the court and public for his behavior. He must write the essay and publish in the next three months.
Chu, 74, committed the felony crimes by falsely applying for and receiving a homestead exemption for a home where Chu did not live between 2015 and 2018.
Assistant Criminal District Attorneys Lloyd Fairbanks and Tommy Netsack prosecuted this case. Investigators Marcus Rink and Kyle Pishulu worked on the case as well.
During the trial, testimony revealed Chu was not living in Precinct 5, as required, when Chu ran for re-election as Justice of the Peace between 2012 and 2018. Testimony also showed the day after Chu filed for re-election in 2018, using the address of a home he leased to a renter in Precinct 5, he changed a water bill into his name to make it appear he lived in that home.
A tipster complained that Chu didn't live in the district in which he sought re-election. During the investigation, law enforcement officials discovered fraudulent homestead exemptions.
"Chu know what the law is, he knows what he is doing... he wanted the tax benefits," Whelchel, chief of the White Collar and Public Integrity team, told the jury. “He is guilty of this crime. It was his job to serve the public, not be a deceiver. That is what he did for a long time. That is what the public integrity unit is about, to hold us accountable.