HOUSTON (AP) – Rep. Tom DeLay turned himself in Thursday at the sheriff’s office and was fingerprinted, photographed and released on $10,000 bail on conspiracy and money-laundering charges.

Accompanied by his attorney, Dick DeGuerin, the former House majority leader showed up about midday, appeared before a judge and was gone in less than 30 minutes, sheriff’s Lt. John Martin said.

“Now Ronnie Earle has the mugshot he wanted,” DeGuerin said, referring to the Travis County district attorney who brought the charges. DeLay and his lawyer have accused the district attorney of trying to make headlines.

The Texas Republican is scheduled to make his first court appearance on today in Austin.

The charges forced DeLay out of his House leadership post.

The defense later Thursday asked Judge Bob Perkins to step aside and for the trial to be moved out of Travis County. Perkins has donated to causes and people opposed to DeLay, and his impartiality might be questioned, the motion said.

The change-of-venue motion cited media attention and noted that Austin, widely perceived as a liberal town, is “one of the last enclaves of the Democratic Party in Texas.”

He had been expected to turn himself in in his home county, Fort Bend, outside of Houston, where a horde of reporters awaited. But under Texas law, he could check in anywhere in the state.

DeGuerin said he and DeLay went to the sheriff’s office in Houston because it was convenient and because “I wanted to avoid the circus.”

“That’s what Ronnie (Earle) wanted. He wanted a perp walk and we did not want to do it,” the defense attorney said.

DeLay and two political associates are charged in an alleged scheme to funnel corporate donations to candidates for the Texas Legislature. State law prohibits donations of corporate money for direct campaign purposes.

With DeLay’s help, the GOP won control of the Texas House, and the Legislature then pushed through a congressional redistricting plan that sent more Republicans to Washington.


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