Lawyers for 93rd District Court Judge Rodolfo “Rudy” Delgado filed a plea of not guilty to charges he accepted three bribes totaling more than $6,000 from an informant who told the FBI he had been bribing Delgado for years.
A U.S. District Court in Houston set a trial date for May 7 after a federal grand jury there indicted the Hidalgo County judge on three counts of bribery and three counts of violating the federal Travel Act, which forbids the use of the telephone to commit the crimes.
The State Commission on Judicial Conduct suspended Delgado without pay after the the grand jury indicted him on the six counts, according to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.
Delgado, 64, of Edinburg, faces a maximum of 10 years in federal prison and as much as $250,000 in fines on the bribery charges and up to five more years for each count of violating the Travel Act.
As The Texas Monitor reported, Delgado — a candidate for a place on the 13th District Court of Appeals in Corpus Christi — has been free on a $100,000 bail since he heard the charges before U.S. Magistrate J. Scott Hacker earlier this month. FBI agents arrested Delgado Feb. 2 for “bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds.”
The criminal complaint alleged that a local lawyer began cooperating with FBI investigators, who recorded calls and private meetings between the lawyer and Delgado to discuss releasing the lawyer’s clients on bond.
Delgado allegedly took two bribes from the attorney totaling $520, beginning in November 2016, according to the criminal complaint. On Jan. 17, with the attorney wearing a concealed recording wire, he gave Delgado $5,500 in cash in an area restaurant. In each case of a bribe, the complaint said, Delgado set bonds for the attorney’s clients.
In text messages between the judge and the attorney, Delgado refers to the bribes as “campaign contributions” and asks for them to be made by check, the complaint said.
According to Judicial Conduct Commission records, Delgado was suspended from the bench after a grand jury indicted him for driving while intoxicated in 2005, but lifted the suspension in 2007 after a visiting judge dismissed the criminal charges against him.
Mark Lisheron can be reached at [email protected]