Ray Zapata and John Young Lose Appeals of Their Convictions for Forging the Sullivan Will
SAN ANGELO, TX — The Texas 3rd Court of Appeals affirmed the Tom Green County district court’s convictions of both Ray Zapata and John Young. The appellate court upheld Zapata’s conviction on June 19. Young lost his appeal July 17.
Zapata and Young were both convicted for forgery of John Sullivan’s will. Sullivan was a slumlord multimillionaire in San Angelo who was facing charges of sexual assault of a child when he was found dead in the bathroom of his home in June 2014. Zapata was Sullivan’s bail bondsman; Young was his criminal defense attorney. In court testimony, the jury believed the two stole the old man’s estimated $8,168,284 estate. The estimate of the value of the Sullivan estate was provided in court testimony and documents.
Zapata was convicted on two counts of forgery of a financial instrument, one count of theft of property valued at more than $200,000, and one count of money laundering in the amount of $20,000 or more but less than $100,000 on May 17, 2017. He was sentenced to six months in the state pen and ordered to pay $1.8 million in restitution to the Sullivan estate in addition to 10 years probation.
Young was convicted in a separate trial in November 2017 of two counts of forgery, one count of theft, and one count of money laundering. He was sentenced by a Tom Green County jury to 730 days in prison for the forgery charges and 11 years in prison for the theft and money laundering charges.
Above: Ray Zapata walks to the sheriff's vehicle on Thursday before being taken to the jail in 2014, where he turned himself in. (LIVE! Photo/John Basquez)
Zapata had been free on an appeal bond that was available to him because his prison sentence was light at only six months. Young has been in prison since the end of his trial. With 11 years on his sentence, he was not eligible for and appeal bond.
The 3rd Court of Appeals considered Young’s arguments on five issues during his appeal. Young complained, “The evidence is insufficient to support his convictions, that the district court erred by refusing to continue the trial until an alleged co-conspirator could testify, that the State made improper jury arguments and failed to disclose evidence, and that his trial attorneys did not provide effective assistance of counsel,” according to court documents. In all cases, the appeals court upheld the district court’s conviction. Senior Judge Brock Jones was the presiding judge at the district court level.
Above: John Young (center) leaves the courthouse during his trial in 2017. (LIVE! Photo/Joe Hyde)
Zapata contended that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions for forgery and theft; that the district court erred by admitting his grand jury testimony into evidence; and the district court’s restitution order should be reversed because no evidence supported the initial valuation of the estate.
The court affirmed the district court’s conviction and amount of restitution to be paid in the Zapata conviction and sentencing.
Both Zapata and Young have the opportunity to appeal the appellate court’s opinion to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. This is the highest court in Texas for criminal cases.
Young remains in prison, according to Texas Department of Criminal Justice records. Zapata has no record of being arrested in Tom Green County to begin his six-month stay in prison since the 3rd Court of Appeals opinion was rendered last month. He remains out on a $40,000 appeal bond, according to court records.
- For more on the Ray Zapata trial, click here.
- For more on the John Young trial, click here.
- For more on John Sullivan, click here.
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