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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Getting Away With Murder In Texas

Posted By: ZiLe Ohai - 5:27 PM

Where is Chuck Norris when you need him?

It's amazing that Tom Retzlaff could pose as a lawyer in Texas for years without anyone catching on. Tommy has a glib tongue but how could he have worked as a lawyer for almost 6 years without anyone getting wise or checking his credentials?  Walker, Texas Ranger would have seen through Tommy right away. 

Tommy has a gift for lying and deception, qualities necessary for being a successful con man but he he lacks the self control needed to stay out of trouble. 
Tommy keeps popping up at the Texas court room for the Rauhauser, ViaView lawsuit. The last time he showed his face ViaView's attorney pointed Tommy out to authorities to have him arrested-there's a contempt of court bench warrant for Retzlaff's arrest-but unfortunately because of extradition issues Retzlaff wasn't taken into custody at that time. Walker Texas Ranger would have figured out a way to arrest Retzlaff.

Granted, the warrant for Retzlaff's arrest was issued in California so jurisdictional problems got in the way but still, Texas has it's own grievances with Retzlaff and could have been arrested for felonies committed while he lived in Texas. There's an assortment to choose from... 

In 2013 there was a San Antonio Police investigation into Tom Retzlaff (The whole report is here ). Tommy was the focus of a Grand Jury subpoena after making a terroristic threat by email. Texas has a law that specifically addresses terroristic threats:

(a) A person commits an offense if he threatens to commit any offense involving violence to any person or property with intent to: 
(1) cause a reaction of any type to his threat by an official or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies;  (2) place any person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury;   (3) prevent or interrupt the occupation or use of a building, room, place of assembly, place to which the public has access, place of employment or occupation, aircraft, automobile, or other form of conveyance, or other public place;   (4) cause impairment or interruption of public communications, public transportation, public water, gas, or power supply or other public service;   (5) place the public or a substantial group of the public in fear of serious bodily injury; or   (6) influence the conduct or activities of a branch or agency of the federal government, the state, or a political subdivision of the state.


The penalties for making a terroristic threat can include a prison sentence of 10-20 years. And from what's contained in the 2013 police report, it looks like there was enough evidence to make an arrest; and if a warrant wasn't issued at the time, it still could be. The statute of limitations on his terroristic threat hasn't run out, the clock was stopped when Retzlaff fled the state.

In that same 2013 police report is a reference made to an earlier report in 2012 where Tommy states he was a lawyer. Below is a screen capture of that part of the police report. The detective followed up on this and interviewed the owner of a law office who confirmed that Retzlaff worked for him as a freelance attorney until 2012, possibly having started as early as 2006. 



Six years? You'd think someone in that law office would have had the common sense at some point between 2006 and 2012 to check out Thomas Christopher Retzlaff, Esquire. Checking references is pretty standard at most businesses, you'd think it would be mandatory at a law firm. Just a few minutes to call the Texas State Bar Association, maybe stop by the San Antonio Bar Association office at the courthouse to check Retzlaff's credentials?

But there are two police reports now that mention Tom Retzlaff claiming to be an attorney, in one Tom actually made the statement to a police officer and the other has his employer confirming Tom's employment as a lawyer for 6 years.

In Texas  under §38.122 of the Texas Penal Code, impersonating a lawyer is a third-degree felony that can get you 2-10 years in prison. The statute of limitations hasn't run out on this felony either...fleeing the state to avoid prosecution stops the clock.

And what about impersonating an FBI Agent? That's a felony that will get you 3 years.




There's also numerous times when Tommy created online accounts posing as his daughter and her ex-husband not to mention all the assorted characters he's created to defame and harass his daughter. That's also a felony in Texas:


(a)  A person commits an offense if the person, without obtaining the other person's consent and with the intent to harm, defraud, intimidate, or threaten any person, uses the name or persona of another person to: 
(1)  create a web page on a commercial social networking site or other Internet website; or  (2)  post or send one or more messages on or through a commercial social networking site or other Internet website, other than on or through an electronic mail program or message board program.
(b)  A person commits an offense if the person sends an electronic mail, instant message, text message, or similar communication that references a name, domain address, phone number, or other item of identifying information belonging to any person: 
(1)  without obtaining the other person's consent;   (2)  with the intent to cause a recipient of the communication to reasonably believe that the other person authorized or transmitted the communication; and (3)  with the intent to harm or defraud any person. 
(c)  An offense under Subsection (a) is a felony of the third degree. 

Tom is very aware of this law. In an amazing bit of audacity, Retzlaff testified before a Texas Senate committee, speaking against the passing of the bill criminalizing online impersonation. Retzlaff was the only person in the state who showed up to protest the bill and his statements were written up in an article by David Mann for the Texas Observer (entitled Testify on page 3). 

That article appeared in 2011 while Tommy was a "lawyer" but he told the journalist he was unemployed and working on a master's degree in business administration. Tommy knows there could be a prison sentence of 10 years for each of the people he's impersonated online and the statute of limitations is still open on those felonies. The clock stopped ticking on those when Tommy fled Texas so the statue of limitations will never run out. 

And in another display of audacity, Tommy was interviewed on Anderson Cooper Live, impersonating the owner of Texxxan, a revenge porn site. I don't know if the online impersonation law applies to owners of illegal web sites but if it does, the statute of limitations is still open, the clock frozen. Because Tommy left the state.

So many felonies, so many people's lives affected by one twisted little man.  I hope someone in Texas will play Walker, Texas Ranger and issue a warrant or two or three for the next time Tommy visits Texas.




About ZiLe Ohai

Hi, yes it is really me, ZiLe!

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