Tim Vaughn

Tim Vaughn speaks after being sworn in as the new chairman of the Gregg County Republican Party on Tuesday, July 8, 2014, during its organizational executive committee meeting at the Gregg County Historical Museum. The former politico was sentenced Thursday to a year in federal prison for forging his wife's signature on loan documents. (Les Hassell/News-Journal File Photo)

TYLER — A man who served six terms as mayor of White Oak, has been chairman of the Gregg County Republican Party and chaired the board of trustees for Longview Regional Medical Center was sentenced Thursday to a year in federal prison for forging his wife’s signature on loan documents.

Tim Vaughn had pleaded guilty in May to making false statements to a bank — false statements that a federal judge said got the former East Texas politico a loan on which he later defaulted.

Judge Jeremy Kernodle declared on Thursday that Vaughn will spend 12 months and 1 day in federal prison and forfeit $145,100 plus proceeds and interest as part of a plea deal.

Vaughn’s federal public defender Matt Millslagle requested that his client be sentenced to the prison in Texarkana, and Kernodle agreed to make the request.

After Vaughn’s imprisonment, he will face five years of supervised release.

Vaughn pleaded guilty to one of four counts on which a federal grand jury indicted him on Feb. 20 under his legal name of Timmy Lynn Vaughn. The prosecution agreed to dismiss the other three counts — a second count of false statement to the bank and two counts of aggravated identity theft.

Each false statement offense carried up to 30 years in prison, a fine of up to $1 million and five years of supervised release. Each identity theft count carried a minimum of two years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and up to one year of supervised release and would have to be served consecutively.

The sentencing took place in the Tyler courthouse for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.

At the hearing, Millslagle asked the judge to limit Vaughn’s sentence based on who he is and suggested the 12 months and 1 day in prison, to comply with sentencing guidelines of 12 to 18 months.

Millslagle said Vaughn forged signatures to take out the loans in desperation when he was in financial trouble and has since lost everything. He said the losses include Vaughn’s 18-year marriage, his goodwill in the community and his businesses.

At the direction of his lawyer, Vaughn told the judge what he learned from the experience and what his plan was moving forward.

“You can’t live on your reputation, and you can’t use others,” Vaughn said. His voice broke as he spoke into the microphone.

“No one made me sign that document but me,” he said. “I still have a heart to serve, and I want to serve, but I will have to rebuild.”

Kernodle spoke directly to Vaughn about the crime.

“Mr. Vaughn, you admitted to forging your wife’s signature,” he said. “You defaulted on those loans.”

Kernodle said those loans resulted in a total loss for First Bank & Trust-East Texas, now known as Southside Bank.

The sentencing ends three years of scandal that began when Vaughn announced in November 2016 that he would resign his post as chairman of the Gregg County Republican Party.

Vaughn, who had been well known for serving as mayor of White Oak, was five months into his second term as the county GOP leader. At the time, he said he had received a lobbying job in Dallas.

Days later, the News-Journal revealed that a business partner had sued Vaughn in September 2016 over a real estate deal. The business partner claimed he put $250,000 into a joint business account and that Vaughn made transfers to his own companies.

In December 2016, Vaughn filed for bankruptcy. The lawsuit was dismissed in 2017 without an explanation. The business partner had requested the lawsuit be dismissed.

The federal grand jury charged Vaughn with four felonies on Feb. 20 for interactions with Southside Bank and Texas Bank and Trust. He pleaded guilty to the plea deal with the single charge on May 3.

Vaughn was White Oak mayor from 1996 until 2008 and has been a member of the board of directors of the Northeast Texas Regional Mobility Authority.

According to his biographical information that had been posted at netrma.org, he 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 and its Transportation Committee.

Vaughn has six weeks to self-surrender to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

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