Judge and attorney are both sentenced in cash payment scheme for favorable rulings.
Former Texas Judge Rodolfo “Rudy” Delgado was found guilty in July of accepting cash bribes in exchange for favorable court rulings and was recently sentenced to five years in prison after being formally convicted of “conspiracy, bribery and obstruction of justice.” The sentence came a year-and-a-half after FBI agents raided Delgado’s courthouse to investigate the allegations.
Democratic Judge Alfred H. Bennett of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas said before sentencing Delgado that “it tears at the very fabric of our society. It gives air and weight to the people who look upon the court in suspicion that it does matter who you know, and that justice can be purchased.”
“The bribery of a judge may be the worst break of the publics’ trust in government,” U.S. Attorney Ryan Patrick said, adding, “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. Delgado’s actions unfairly tarnish all his former colleagues.”
Delgado was also ordered to “serve two years of supervised release after prison, participate in alcohol and drug abuse and mental health programs, and pay $800 in special assessment fees,” according to court records. Delgado received his sentence on the same day that criminal defense attorney Noe Perez was also sentenced by the same judge for his role in the bribery scheme.
Perez pleaded guilty in May to one count of “conspiracy to commit bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds” and was sentenced to two years in prison. He agreed to become a government informant and aid in the investigation after being confronted by FBI agents in 2016, telling them he “went to Delgado’s home under the guise of buying firewood” and also gave the judge cash “hidden in six packs of beer.”
Delgado allegedly accepted a total of $520 in two recorded bribes over the course of the investigation. Then, in January, Perez set up a meeting with Delgado where he gave the judge $5,500 in cash enclosed in an envelope.
During his trial, Perez testified that his visits were convenient, “where he could actually buy wood which helped him disguise the reason for being at the judge’s residence.” After Delgado learned of the investigation, he sent a text to Perez asking him to provide the funds in a check as a campaign contribution. In this way, the exchanges would be more difficult to trace.
The text read, “Good evening, please call me. The campaign contribution needs to be by check. I need to return that to you so you can write a check. Sorry about the confusion, I thought you knew, and I did not open the envelope until today.”
Perez was reportedly remorseful when he appeared in court for his sentencing hearing and asked for leniency. He said, “I tried to get out, I don’t want to pay anymore. You either do it, or you don’t.” Like Delgado, the attorney will also serve two years of supervised release upon release.