Jerry Hart of Hart Galleries, Scheduled to Serve His Time on a Felony Conviction, Reflects on the Past

Categories: Crime

jerryhart1.JPG
Photo by Steve Jansen
Jerry Hart
Jerry Hart has been sitting at Avalon Diner for nearly two hours and he's barely touched the English muffin that he glazed with butter when it first arrived at the corner table. The antique dealer, convicted of misapplication of fiduciary property in connection with his once high-flying business, has had a lot to say during the first interview with the media that he's done in years.

"Sometimes I wake up and it seems like a bad dream," says Hart, who stirs his iced tea as high school kids from St. John's and Lamar catch up on the latest gossip at the surrounding tables. "What can I say? This has been a five-year odyssey."

Barring a judicial miracle, Jerry, 68, and his wife Wynonne, 64, will be going back to prison to serve the remainder of their 14-year stints. The Court of Criminal Appeals denied a petition for a retrial. Now, the Harts' fate is in the hands of the United States Supreme Court.

Even for a riches-to-rags story, the Harts' tale ranks up there as one of the most dramatic falls from the elite.

Jerry Hart was raised by antiquing lifer Samuel Hart, who was the dean of Texas auctioneers. "I worshipped my dad and he was my stepfather -- a lot of people don't know that," says Hart.

Instead of taking a similar route, Hart studied medicine at Tulane. After the Bellaire High graduate flunked out of college in 1964, he joined the Army, spending six years in field hospitals.

In the '70s, he moved to Dallas for a Corporate America gig. While there, he met a flight attendant for Braniff International Airways named Wynonne. The two, who raised three children, have been married 38 years.

After Samuel passed away in 1975, Jerry moved back to Houston to take care of the messy business affairs that had deteriorated due to his dad's health episodes and his mom's unwillingness to do what it takes to keep a business afloat.

"Mom was one of the people who would sleep until 1 in the afternoon. She would never come into the store. She wanted me to go to her house to conduct meetings almost every other day," remembers Hart, who adds that he quit when his mom insisted that they hire a guy that gave Jerry the creeps.

"Mom said hire him or you're out, so I left. He ended up taking all kinds of advantage of my mom," says Hart. "I was basically on the street with a new house, new baby and about $4,000 or $5,000 in the bank."

Location Info

Avalon Diner

2417 Westheimer, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant


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14 comments
kodachrome
kodachrome

I personally know the Harts from doing business with them after all of this occurred (obviously with some reservation). I found that underneath their rough exterior, they are very good people. While I do think that they clearly made some bad decisions, I do not believe they received a fair trial nor did they receive just punishment. Why are we zealously condemning this couple and not clamoring to have the folks on Wall Street  brought to justice who bankrupted the whole of America? The punishment does not fit the crime. 

Tinterow
Tinterow

Wynonne Hart attempted suicide around June 18, 2012 after hearing she would be returning to prison.  Why wasn't this publicized?  Someone in high places or with a lot of pull is trying to protect these convicted criminals. I guess "they" (you know who I'm talking about...restaurant owner) were not robbed by these disgusting white collar criminals. After Wynonne is released from the hospital she will be returning to prison.  Jerry is currently waiting for a cell to become available.

Bubba
Bubba

As far back as 30 years ago Jerry Hart was scamming consignors. My Uncle went to pick up his merchandise and lo and behold, Hart didn't have it. Only after being threatened with bodily harm did the merchandise magically reappear 24 hours later. Jerry's father, who created the business, was as honest as they come. I'm sure he's turning over in his grave!

Freckle_bone
Freckle_bone

How do you personally know Jerry and Wynonne? Yes they could be angry and sometimes mean but they were really truly great people. They did care when it came right down to it. Not everyone is perfect. I'm pretty sure you aren't by a long shot. It is not right to send them to prison for that long. You must have been somewhat close to know or think you know how he treated employees and friends. You were obviously not a good friend to him speaking this way about him. They have been in my entire life basically. Know what you are talking about and know what goes on with people before you so rudly open your mouth about them.

Jeff A
Jeff A

I believe on the state level it is called "Misapplication of Funds".  In the eighties it was happening all over the county and as victim of this type  of crime I could never find where one person/company was prosecuted for the crime.  Maybe that is why in Harris County it is still widely committed today.

me
me

Like any good con man, Jerry's got a sad story and an easy explanation.  I don't know why the writer bothers to tell half the story.  Either go all in and interview a victim or two or just drop it.  The puff piece you ended up with only serves the admitted criminal who is now sorry only that he got caught.

Duce630
Duce630

So many frauds happen by people who have good intentions to make it good. Instead of closing up shop or contacting customers when he had money troubles first, he makes them worse by trying to cover it up until he can make it better and did so, for his own personal gain. Personal gain meaning, staying in business. He likely still paid himself and some of his necessary bills during that time. Yes, he didn't just do it so he could buy a luxury yacht but it is still personal gain.

TOLDYA
TOLDYA

The Nuns should have beaten you more often.

Flaubertg
Flaubertg

 you said 'usually', so I guess there are exceptions, and I'd like to claim one.

TOLDYA
TOLDYA

At least this "simpleton" knows that sentences usually begin with a capitalized first letter.

Guest
Guest

UNSOLD!: Should have asked him how many people he hurt? How badly? Have you gone soft or is he a 'family friend?'  He treated people around him very poorly.  His family, his employees, his associates.  A mouth only a sailor could love and now he's whining about going to the brig?  Good on ya judges! He lived the good life out of other people's pockets and on their backs for almost half a century.  His argument is antique.

Flaubertg
Flaubertg

 maybe to provide a little nuance to simpletons like you?

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