White-Collar Crime

Latest Lawyer Sentenced in Judicial Bribery Case Gets 3.5 Years in Federal Prison

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A lawyer convicted earlier this year of bribing a South Texas judge was sentenced Thursday in Brownsville to 3½ years in federal prison.

Ray R. Marchan was convicted after a jury trial of seven counts in June, including racketeering, but subsequently had one mail fraud conviction reversed, the San Antonio Express-News reports. The Associated Press also has a story.

The 56-year-old Marchan could have gotten as much as 20 years plus a $250,000 fine on each count. However, despite adverse testimony at sentencing from attorney Mikal Watts, at whose firm Marchan formerly worked, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen said he sent the talented lawyer to prison with a heavy heart. Watts said that Marchan, a Stanford Law School graduate. had been fired from his firm for overbilling clients and charging hefty personal expenses on the corporate credit card, the Express-News reports.

Marchan’s lawyer, Noe Garza, says Marchan will appeal the sentence, the Brownsville Herald reports.

Although other defendants including the former state district judge Marchan bribed have taken pleas in a series of related cases, Marchan was the first lawyer to go to trial. Another defendant, attorney Marc Garrett Rosenthal of Austin, is set for trial in February.

Abel Limas, the former 404th state district judge convicted of taking bribes while on the bench, has not yet been sentenced. He is currently expected to be sentenced in April, around the same time that a racketeering conspiracy trial is scheduled for former Cameron County district attorney Armando Villalobos, who was indicted while he was still in office. Eduardo “Eddie” Lucio, a former law partner of Villalobos (but no relation to state officials with the same name), also faces charges.

Others who have been convicted include attorney former state lawmaker Jose Santiago “Jim” Solis and attorney Jose Martin “Joe” Valle, who got one year at his sentencing in April 2012 for aiding and abetting extortion. Solis is scheduled to be sentenced in March of next year.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Top Texas Court Vacates Libel Appeal and Appellate Opinion Due to $8K Bribe Paid to Trial Judge”

ABAJournal.com: “Feds Say DA Got $80K, Judge Got $10K As They Conspired to Obtain Part of Murderer’s $500K Bail Bond”

ABAJournal.com: “Federal Judge Won’t Dismiss RICO Conspiracy Case Against South Texas DA, But Delays Trial Until 2013”

Valley Morning Star: “Villalobos’ ex-partner tries to block Limas testimony”

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