Reporter's note: This story has been clarified from an earlier version.
TYLER — Tim Vaughn, once a six-term White Oak mayor who later led Gregg County Republicans and chaired Longview Regional Medical Center trustees, is now fighting to avoid decades in federal prison.
The former East Texas politico has been charged with making material false statements and committing aggravated identity theft at two East Texas financial institutions.
A federal grand jury indicted Vaughn on Feb. 20 on four counts under his full legal name — Timmy Lynn Vaughn. Prosecutors want to seize $146,000 and all interest and proceeds related to the alleged crimes.
A conviction for making false statements to a bank carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison and up to a $1 million fine.
Aggravated identity theft carries a sentence of up to two years in prison and no more than $250,000 in fines, but the sentence must run consecutively to any other sentence that is imposed upon a defendant.
Vaughn, 59, was arraigned at a federal courthouse in Tyler by U.S. Magistrate Judge K. Nicole Mitchell, who appointed him a public defender.
Mitchell has given Vaughn and prosecutors an April 26 deadline to notify the court of any plea bargain or agreement. Otherwise, an initial trial date is scheduled for May 13.
Vaughn is accused of making material false statements to Southside Bank — formerly known as First Bank and Trust East Texas — on March 18, 2016, and then to Texas Bank and Trust more than a week later on March 26, 2016. In both instances, Vaughn used identification for another person with the initials D.V. while making the false statement to the federally insured financial institutions, according to the indictment.
According to prosecutors, Vaughn represented that the borrower of a line of credit at First Bank and Trust East Texas authorized the application, but Vaughn knew that the borrower’s signature was forged on the promissory note and other required documentation.
At Texas Bank and Trust, Vaughn made a false statement to influence the bank’s actions on a commercial loan, as he represented that the co-owner of pledged collateral had executed a notarized deed of trust for the real property, “when in truth and in fact, as (Vaughn) well knew, the co-owner’s signature was forged,” according to the indictment.
Vaughn was Gregg County Republican Party chairman until December 2016, when he resigned five months into his second term, saying he was pursuing career plans in North Central Texas.
He also was chairman of the Longview Regional Medical Center board of trustees as recently as 2015, served on the Northeast Texas Regional Mobility Authority board of directors and was mayor of White Oak from 1996 until 2008.
According to his biographical information at netrma.org, Vaughn served 18 years on the Longview Metropolitan Planning Organization executive board, was appointed to the 12-member State Rail Planning Task Force for the Texas Department of Transportation, chaired the board for Gregg and Harrison County Children’s Advocacy Center and served on the Texas Association of Business Board of Directors as well as its Transportation Committee.
Vaughn has been a defendant in multiple civil lawsuits in Gregg County courts over the past six years, according to online records.
In September 2016, Longview cardiologist Dr. Samir Germanwala sued Vaughn, TVaughn Builders LLC, TVaughn Properties LLC, Aesthetica of Longview LLC and DTV Ventures LLC for damages three years after the two men had formed a partnership to build high-end homes. In the lawsuit, Germanwala complained of transfers that Vaughn made from the business account to companies within his homebuilding enterprise.
Germanwala asked for the case to be dismissed in December 2017, though no reason was indicated in court records.
On Saturday, Germanwala told the News-Journal that he and his wife asked for the dismissal because Vaughn had declared bankruptcy and that they had no chance of being awarded any money to recoup their $250,000 in losses.
Wilhite Landscaping and Lawn Care Ltd. of Tyler sued Vaughn in April 2017 in a small claims lawsuit and was awarded $640.62 in damages from Vaughn four months later by Gregg County Pct. 1 Justice of the Peace B.H. Jameson, according to court records.
In June 2017, AP Equipment and Rentals Inc. of Longview sued Vaughn in another small claims lawsuit. Last December, Gregg County Pct. 2 Justice of the Peace Tim Bryan awarded a judgment of $6,316.44 against Vaughn, according to records.