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Impeachment begins for convicted judge

WASHINGTON, June 9 (UPI) -- The impeachment of a federal judge in Texas who is about to go to prison passed a U.S. House subcommittee Tuesday.

The subcommittee voted 10-0 after a 20-minute hearing to send articles of impeachment against Samuel Kent to the Judiciary Committee, the Houston Chronicle reported. The committee plans to vote Wednesday in a fast-track impeachment.

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Kent pleaded guilty earlier this year to one count of obstruction of justice after being indicted on charges that included aggravated sexual abuse and abusive sexual contact. He first said he would retire, which would allow him to collect his salary for the rest of his life, and then, this week, offered his resignation effective June 1, 2010.

Investigators said that Kent, who was assigned to Galveston, abused two female employees and then lied about his misconduct.

Federal judges can only be removed by impeachment. Legislators said they hope to have a House vote on impeachment before July 4 and a Senate trial before the August recess.

Kent has been ordered to report to prison by June 15 to begin serving a 33-month sentence.

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