A funny thing happens when you look deeper into the high-stakes Menger Divorce Case playing out in Houston. There are new questions about possible pay to play politics in the Harris County family
courthouse.

In these big divorce cases it is usually about the children and the money. One of the largest assets in the Menger case before Judge Lisa Millard is the company Petro-Valve, Inc., a multi-million- dollar valve supply company in the oil and gas industry. In early 2016, Marek Menger was ousted as the company’s president and replaced by his soon-to- be ex-wife, Sherry Menger.

The ouster came after charges of reckless spending by Marek Menger while he was boss, driving the company into financial trouble as he continued to spend his self-proclaimed fun money while living in Cabo San Lucas and took lavish trips. Since Sherry has run the company, it has returned to profit and the ability to expand.

That wasn’t enough good news to keep Judge Millard from appointing a receiver to oversee all of the couple’s companies. If Petro-Valve, Inc. was profitable and poised to remain so, why did Judge Lisa Millard appoint a receiver to oversee, not only Petro-Valve, but the couple’s other three companies? That sends a message that could threaten the business operations and scare customers away.

It gets more curious.

Millard appointed Houston based forensic accountant, William Stewart Jr. to act as the receiver in the Menger divorce. Just six weeks later, Stewart was already out of the case. For just those six weeks, Stewart’s billed more than $50,000. Millard told the Mengers they could challenge the cost, if they want to spend more money on legal fees.

Why would a judge appoint a receiver to manage a profitable company? Why so little oversight of the bills?

Stewart is a frequent donor to Judge Millard’s campaign. More than $6,000 since 2005.

We already told you another court payment went to Jeffrey Uzick, appointed by Millard as a master in the case to oversee evidence. Uzick and his law firm are an even bigger contributor to Millard, $21,000 over the same period.

Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but next time you go family court, you might want to look at the judge’s campaign records first.

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