Byron Cook Defrauded Pastor, Lawsuit Claims

After being sued for fraud by one business partner last year, Byron Cook has now also been sued by a Collin County pastor who alleges that he was defrauded by Cook’s business scheme.

Mike Buster, executive pastor at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, filed suit against Cook and several of his business partners alleging that Cook engaged in self-dealing transactions to drive up the book price of oil and gas investments, which he dumped on unsuspecting investors, including Buster.

The suit is very similar to one brought by Charles Loper last year related to the same allegedly fraudulent scheme.

The two suits allege that Cook, working through a company called Unity Resources, lied to investors about the way the entity would make money. Investors were allegedly told the entity would only make a 5% finder’s fee, but documents reveal that Cook, along with his long-time business partner Joel Hochberg, engaged in self-dealing transactions to inflate the price of properties that were dumped on the investors.

Both Cook and Hochberg are the primary witnesses in the criminal case against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. That suit alleges that Paxton criminally violated state securities laws despite no one alleging that Paxton ever made a false statement during the transactions. Further proceedings against Paxton are currently on hold as the Dallas Court of Appeals considers removing the judge from the case.

Facing a tough reelection challenge from Corsicana businessman Thomas McNutt and the two lawsuits, Cook may find himself in the unique position of being one of the only members of the Texas House who doesn’t want to return home after the five-month legislative session.

When the gavel finally falls sine die, Cook will be stripped of the legislative immunity that has protected him from discovery during the legislative session and will be forced to start answering questions about whether he defrauded a pastor and other business partners.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tony McDonald serves as General Counsel for Empower Texans. A licensed and practicing attorney, Tony received his J.D. in 2012 from UT Law School. While in school, Tony served as Senior Vice Chairman for Young Conservatives of Texas and helped manage its legislative affairs. During the 83rd Texas Legislature he served as Chief of Staff for Rep. Jonathan Stickland. Tony resides in Austin and attends St. Paul Lutheran Church.

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