State District Judge Rodolfo “Rudy” Delgado, who pleaded not guilty to charges that he accepted bribes of more than $6,000 from an attorney who told the FBI he had been bribing Delgado for a decade, has resigned.
Delgado, judge for the 93rd state district in Hidalgo County made it clear for local reporters Monday his resignation was not an admission of guilt. He also left unanswered whether or not he would continue his campaign for a seat on the 13th Court of Appeals.
“Some people may consider this announcement as some type of admission of culpability with respect to the pending charges. They would be wrong in doing so. It is simply, the right thing to do,” he said in a statement he read to reporters in what was once his courtroom. “I believe it is in the public’s best interest that the 93rd District Court continues to operate.”
Delgado, 64, of Edinburg, as The Texas Monitor reported, has been free on a $100,000 bail since Feb. 5. On March 5, Delgado pleaded not guilty to three counts of bribery and three counts of violating the federal Travel Act, which forbids using the telephone to commit the crimes, according to another Texas Monitor story.
A trial in U.S. District Court in Houston, originally set for May 7, has been postponed until early September. In late February, a federal grand jury there heard evidence in the case and indicted Delgado. The State Commission on Judicial Conduct suspended him without pay.
If convicted, Delgado could get a maximum of 10 years in federal prison and up to $250,000 in fines on the bribery charges and a maximum of five years for each Travel Act violation.
According to the original criminal complaint, an unnamed local attorney agreed to become an FBI informant after telling investigators he had been bribing Delgado since 2008.
The attorney gave Delgado two bribes totaling $520, beginning in November of 2016, an a single bribe of $5,500 in cash on Jan. 17 in a local restaurant, with the attorney recording the transaction with a concealed audio wire, according to the complaint.
Investigators retrieved text messages between Delgado and the attorney, in which Delgado referred to the bribes as “campaign contributions” and requested the attorney make those contributions by check.
Delgado has been re-elected to his court post since 2001 and for 11 years before that he was a court-at-law judge for Hidalgo County. During that time, Delgado’s only violation was a suspension after a DWI arrest in 2005 that was rescinded in 2007 when a visiting judge dismissed the charge, according to Judicial Conduct Commission records.
Hidalgo County has asked precinct chairs for both major parties to nominate a candidate for a special election in November to complete Delgado’s term, which expires at the end of 2020, according to The Monitor, the newspaper in McAllen.
Ric Godinez, outgoing Democratic Party chairman, told the paper that local and state party officials have not decided on what action to take on Delgado’s Court of Appeals candidacy.
Delgado, did not answer questions about it on Monday. “I must now devote my time and energy to assist my defense team,” he said.
Mark Lisheron can be reached at [email protected].