Real estate developer Michael Surface, who as chairman of the Harris County Sports and Convention Corp. was in charge of deciding the Astrodome’s future for the first 8 years of its life as an empty sports venue, pled guilty this morning to filing a false tax statement and making a false statement to federal agents. As part of a plea agreement connected to corruption charges filed against him and Harris County commissioner Jerry Eversole, Surface will likely receive a sentence of less than 5 years in prison capped by less than 3 years’ supervised release and a fine of less than $250,000.
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Surface’s tenure as the Astrodome’s steward should be noted for the curiously constructed “competition” he devised to select a company to redevelop the abandoned landmark, followed by a 4-year period that gave the “winner” — which, under Surface’s influence, kept changing its proposal — exclusive rights to negotiate a deal. At the end of 2007, Surface was canned from his job, but his legacy is intact. The still-vacant and rotting Astrodome he left behind still remains — a tribute to his vision.
- Eversole, Surface enter guilty pleas [abc13]
- Surface admits gifts to Eversole meant to influence him [Houston Politics]
- Previously on Swamplot: The Corruption Trials Behind the Astrodome’s Lost Decade, More Surface Deals Surface, Astrodome Future: Whole Lot Brighter Once You Scratch Surface, The Astrodome Loses Its Surface, The Secret Plan To Redevelop the Astrodome, Dome Redo: Doomed from the Opening Pitch
- Astrodome coverage [Swamplot]
Photo: James Harrison