Cynthia Lea Hogan Ray, widow of George A. “Trace” Ray III, was accused of theft of a firearm from her late husband’s estate.
The offense is a state jail felony. If convicted of the charge, Ray could be sentenced to two years in a state jail facility and fined $10,000.
Texas Ranger James Bennett said this week that he led the investigation with the assistance of Steve Martin, Special Ranger for Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, and Deputy Investigator Delilah Pier of the Bee County Sheriff’s Office.
According to Pier, Ray was charged with one count of the offense but the case is still under investigation.
District Attorney Martha Warner said that the investigation involved what may be multiple firearms.
Pier said the estate where the weapon was allegedly stolen is in the Pettus area. She said Bennett had recovered several rifles. The investigation had been underway about a month when the arrest was made last week.
Mr. Ray married the defendant on July 4, 2005, and he died at age 65 on Oct. 7, 2010.
Acquaintances described Ray as an avid hunter and gun collector.
Mrs. Ray also was named in a lawsuit filed in Bexar County on March 15 by her former attorney, Daniel R. Rutherford.
The lawyer said he represented Mrs. Ray in a lawsuit she filed against her stepchildren, Mr. Ray’s son, Clint Ray, and daughter, Jennifer Orchard, in 2011.
According to Rutherford’s lawsuit, Mrs. Ray did not pay the attorney a $226,515 fee for representing her in an estate struggle with her stepchildren.
“I got her the money,” Rutherford said when contacted this week at his office in San Antonio.
In the suit, Rutherford said he agreed to represent Mrs. Ray on an hourly basis after she told him she could not find a lawyer who would take the case without a 40 percent contingency fee.
The suit stated Mrs. Ray claimed that her stepchildren were “conspiring to beat her out of her rightful property from her recently deceased husband.”
Mrs. Ray told the attorney that she had been “tricked” into signing a pre-marital agreement and that the stepchildren had taken control of the estate.
“They cut off her utilities to her home and refused to pay any of their deceased father’s bills. They harassed her day and night and she needed a lawyer who would not let the stepchildren ‘beat up’ on her any more,” Rutherford’s suit claimed.
Rutherford, who was winding down his law practice at the time to concentrate more on family business, said he agreed to take the case at a rate of $400 an hour. He told Mrs. Ray that his fee would be within a range of $300,000-$400,000. She agreed to that arrangement and he took the case.
The lawyer said he worked into the night (10- to 12-hour days) researching the case, worked weekends and even cut a family vacation short a day early at Ray’s insistence.
Rutherford said he worked on the case in San Antonio, Pettus and Beeville and at one point even had to fly his staff to Fort Worth to obtain court records in a similar case. In addition, Rutherford claimed that he purchased special law books pertaining to the defendant’s case and spent many thousands of dollars in expenses related to the suit.
Rutherford also claimed in the suit that he was “scolded” by Mrs. Ray once for not spending the time he had promised on the case.
The attorney said that when he was able to arrange mediation, Mrs. Ray refused to obey the court order to appear for the mediation and accused Rutherford of “selling her out.”
“At mediation,” Rutherford said in the suit, “plaintiff was highly successful in negotiating a recovery for the defendant in the total amount of approximately $1.9 million, paid to her outside of the trust. This meant that she no longer would be under the thumb of her hated and despised stepchildren and she could set up her own trust with a trustee of her selection and engage in her own investment plan, setting the terms of her income and guide and direct her own fate.”
According to Rutherford’s claim, Mrs. Ray’s original trust for $2 million would allow her stepchildren to elect to place her money into a special marital trust, whereby she would only get the income from the trust and could never receive any of the principal.
Rutherford claimed in the suit that when Mrs. Ray asked him what his fee would be, he told her $200,000. The attorney said Mrs. Ray had expected to be charged $250,000.
At one point, Mrs. Ray suggested deeding ranch property to Rutherford that had been appraised at $250,000, even though Mr. Ray had paid $450,000 for the land.
Rutherford finally agreed to accept a $1.4 million transfer from Mrs. Ray’s stepchildren and then wire $1.2 million to her. But the attorney said Mrs. Ray apparently ended up having the money sent directly to her without Rutherford’s knowledge.
Mrs. Ray later told Rutherford that she would send him the money for his fee but she later refused to pay and demanded an itemized bill.
Rutherford said in the suit that he complied with that request and later received a check for $50,000 with the notation “paid in full” attached.
The attorney is asking for the $226,515 in order to recover the remainder of his fee, court costs and pre-judgment and post-judgment interests. He also requested that a lien be placed on Mrs. Ray’s money and property.
The suit was filed in the 408th District Court in San Antonio and Rutherford did not say when he expected the case to go to trial.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Ray is free on the $5,000 personal recognizance bond set on March 20 by Bee County Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Ted Staples.
“She’s not going anywhere,” Staples said.
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.