Texas commissioner candidate charged for allegedly faking racist social media attacks

Rosie Nguyen Image
Monday, June 17, 2024
Fort Bend Co. candidate allegedly faked racist posts against himself
Taral Patel, a Fort Bend County candidate, is charged for allegedly making a fake social media account and posting racist comments about himself.

FORT BEND COUNTY, Texas -- The Democratic challenger for Fort Bend County, Texas Precinct 3 commissioner is facing charges for allegedly creating a fake social media account to post racist comments directed at himself after the Republican incumbent requested an investigation last year.

According to arrest warrant documents, Pct. 3 Commissioner Andy Meyers requested the Fort Bend County District Attorney's Office begin an investigation in October regarding the source behind several social media posts directed at his opponent, Taral Patel.

This came after Patel, 30, issued a statement on his social media accounts with a collage of racist posts that he claimed were directed at him. Although many of the usernames were concealed, Meyers told investigators he recognized an account that went by the name "Antonio Scalywag" as someone who had attacked him before.

Investigators found that the fake account used a profile photo that belonged to someone else. The DA's office issued a subpoena to Facebook and Google, which allowed them to obtain account data that matched Patel's address, phone number, Texas driver's license number, bank card number and other personal information.

On Wednesday, the Texas Rangers arrested Patel on a third-degree felony charge for online impersonation and a Class A misdemeanor charge for misrepresentation of identity, which is found under the Texas Election Code. A spokesperson with the Fort Bend County District Attorney's Office said this is the first time their agency has charged someone with an election-related misdemeanor

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Patel previously served as chief of staff for Fort Bend County Judge KP George from 2018 to 2021, according to his LinkedIn. In a statement to ABC Houston affiliate KTRK, George wrote:

"As a public official, I address the recent events involving a former employee with a deep sense of concern. Recognizing the gravity of the situation, I emphasize the vital importance of upholding the principles of due process and impartial investigation. I trust that this matter will be examined without prejudice. While awaiting additional information, I reaffirm my commitment to ensuring justice and accountability. I look forward to gaining a complete understanding of the circumstances surrounding this unfortunate incident."

Requests for comment from Patel were not answered. A spokesperson for Meyers' office said they had no comment, and deferred any official statement to law enforcement.

Patel's bond was set at $20,000 for the felony and $2,500 for the misdemeanor. He bonded out of the Fort Bend County Jail early Thursday morning. His next court appearance is scheduled for July 22.