HOUSTON (KIAH) — A Houston conservative activist has been charged with unlawful restraint and aggravated assault in what authorities called a bogus voter fraud scheme that led to a man being held at gunpoint.
Steven Hotze was indicted for those two charges for his role in the scheme by a Harris County grand jury this week. His attorneys told the Associated Press that Hotze is innocent of any crime.
The grand jury issued four indictments from an October 2020 incident when former Houston police captain Mark Aguirre followed a man driving a van, then running the van off the road and then pointing a loaded gun at the man’s head, according to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.
Aguirre, who was previously been indicted in connection with the incident, was also indicted with the unlawful restraint and aggravated assault charges.
Aguirre said he thought the man was part of a scheme to deliver illegal mail-in ballots and thought he had 750,000 fraudulent ballots in the van. But investigators only found air conditioning tools and equipment, and the man was an air conditioning repairman.
The DA’s office said that while Hotze was not at the scene of the incident, he “took in furtherance of the scheme.” The office also said that Aguirre was working as a private investigator at the time of the incident, not HPD.
Both men appeared in state district court today, the DA’s office said.
The repairman filed a lawsuit in March 2021 accusing Hotze of paying Aguirre $300,000 to investigate voter fraud in Houston through an organization called The Liberty Center for God and County that Hotze funds and operates.