White-Collar Crime

DA Gave Me Money, Too, Ex-Judge Testifies at Another Lawyer's Federal Racketeering Trial

A former South Texas judge was testifying Tuesday in Brownsville in the federal racketeering trial of attorney Ray R. Marchan.

But before a defense attorney successfully objected that the testimony by Abel C. Limas concerning Cameron County District Attorney Armando R. Villalobos was irrelevant, the convicted ex-judge said he had received money, while still on the bench, from Villalobos, reports the Brownsville Herald.

After testifying that he had himself begun an investigation into a controversial case in which a convicted murderer, given time to put his affairs in order, failed to report for his 23-year prison sentence, Limas was asked by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael J. Wynne, “Did Mr. Villalobos, as the sitting district attorney, pay you, as a sitting judge, money in order to stop the investigation and not take any judicial action regarding the investigation?”

Limas responded affirmatively, and said the DA had given him money, although he did not say how much, the newspaper reports. When Wynne asked for more details, defense attorney Noe Domingo Garza Jr. objected, putting an end to that line of questioning.

Limas testified earlier that Marchan, who is the only defendant at trial, gave him money, too. The attorney is accused of paying the then-judge $11,000 in bribes. The defense says Marchan merely gave the judge a loan.

Limas also testified that he received money from a number of other lawyers, as detailed in an earlier Brownsville Herald story.

Villalobos is under federal indictment in another case, in which he is accused of running the district attorney’s office as a racketeering enterprise. He is listed as a possible witness later in the Marchan trial.

Limas took a plea earlier this year, but has not yet been sentenced.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Feds Say Defendant Lawyer Paid Texas Judge for Ad-Litem Work, Favorable Ruling on Sanctions Motion”

ABAJournal.com: “DA Running for Congress Is Indicted; Feds Say He Ran His Office as a Criminal RICO Enterprise”

ABAJournal.com: “Texas DA Says He Won’t Step Down Despite His Indictment in Federal Racketeering Case”

ABAJournal.com: “Convicted Judge and Indicted DA are on Witness List in Texas Lawyer’s Federal Racketeering Trial”

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