Judge charged with bribery after criminal defense lawyer participates in federal sting operation

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Judge Rodolfo “Rudy” Delgado/Hidalgo County, Texas, District Courts webpage.

A judge in Edinburg, Texas, has been charged with bribery in a federal sting operation aided by a local criminal defense attorney.

Judge Rodolfo “Rudy” Delgado, 64, was accused of accepting three bribes since November 2016, though the cooperating lawyer alleged the judge accepted bribes as long ago as 2008, report the San Antonio Express-News, the Associated Press and the [McAllen] Monitor.

The 93rd district judge was arrested Friday after a search of his home and offices. The criminal complaint and an accompanying affidavit were unsealed Monday.

The Monitor says Delgado “is known for subjecting those in his courtroom to oftentimes long-winded, boisterous manners of expression,” but he appeared worn in his first appearance before a federal magistrate Monday in McAllen.

“In America we have the presumption of innocence and I intend to let the judicial process take its course,” Delgado told journalists at the courthouse.

The cooperating lawyer said he had paid Delgado multiple times for favorable rulings in criminal cases, according to an FBI agent’s affidavit supporting the complaint. Codes were employed when using the phone to set up in-person meetings.

Delgado allegedly accepted a total of $520 in two bribes after the lawyer began cooperating, and then placed the lawyer’s clients’ on bond, the affidavit said. The lawyer also set up a January meeting with Delgado where he gave the judge $5,500 in an envelope stuffed with cash, along with a note that had case information, the affidavit says.

Delgado placed the lawyer’s client on bond the next day. Later in January, Delgado sent the lawyer a text message referring to the money as a campaign contribution and saying he needed a check instead of cash. The FBI agent said in the affidavit he believes Delgado had learned of or suspected the investigation.

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