HARRIS COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM/CNN) – A former state district judge in South Texas has been sentenced to five years in federal prison after being found guilty of accepting cash bribes in exchange for favorable court rulings.
A jury in Houston convicted Rodolfo Delgado of Edinburg, of one count of conspiracy, three counts of federal program bribery, three counts of travel act bribery and one count of obstruction of justice.
Once the 66-year-old has served his prison sentence he will have two years of supervised release.
“Rudy Delgado used his position to enrich himself. He didn’t just tip the scales of justice, he knocked it over with a wad of cash and didn’t look back,” U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick said. “Delgado’s actions unfairly tarnish all his former colleagues.”
Delgado was a judge for the 93rd district court in Texas, and had jurisdiction over criminal and civil cases within Hidalgo County.
Between 2008 and 2016, he conspired with an attorney to accept bribes in exchange for favorable judicial consideration on criminal cases in his courtroom, said the US attorney’s office for the southern district of Texas.
One of the attorneys started working as an informant for the FBI in 2016, and reportedly would take beer boxes to the judge and slip money into them.
During their meetings, the judge and the attorney discussed purchasing “wood,” which the informant described as the code word for judicial favors. In some cases, Delgado reportedly accepted cash and asked for details such as the case number.
According to the U.S. attorney’s office, Delgado accepting bribes ranging between $520 and $5,500.
Delgado was elected to the bench in 2000 and was indicted in February 2018. When he found out he was being investigated by the FBI, authorities say he tried to obstruct justice by contacting the attorney and providing a false story about the payments.
Delgado had been free on bond since his July conviction. After his sentencing Wednesday, he will voluntarily surrender to a yet undetermined prison facility.
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