White-Collar Crime

Lawyer gets 20 years in judicial bribery case, is ordered to pay $12M restitution

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A Texas lawyer convicted of racketeering conspiracy and other charges in a Cameron County judicial bribery case was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years in federal prison and ordered to pay $12 million in restitution.

During a two-day sentencing hearing in Brownsville, a federal judge reversed two mail fraud convictions against Marc Rosenthal. But that still left another 11 counts on which he had been convicted earlier this year, according to the Associated Press and KGBT.

Prosecutors said Rosenthal bribed a former state-court judge, Abel Limas, for favorable treatment, paid witnesses for favorable testimony and used undue influence to win big settlements.

Federal sentencing guidelines called for Rosenthal to get between 27 and 34 years, and the government asked for the maximum, the station reports. However, defense attorney Paul Kratzig argued for less, pointing out that Limas, who admittedly took bribes while on the bench and served as a ringleader, was sentenced to only six years in a related case. Rosenthal apologized during the hearing, and promised to devote himself to charitable works in the future, as he has also done in the past.

In addition to admittedly taking bribes and doing favors for lawyers who looked out for him financially, Limas reportedly agreed, while he was still on the bench, to work for Rosenthal’s firm after he left office. However, he cooperated with the government and was a star witness in the trials of Rosenthal and other lawyers.

Former state Rep. Jose Santiago “Jim” Solis served as counsel for the Brownsville office of Rosenthal’s Austin-based law firm. He pleaded guilty and cooperated with the government and was sentenced in August to a prison term of nearly four years. Prosecutors said he acted as a middleman for some of the illegal activities in which Rosenthal was involved.

Other lawyers brought down by the federal prosecution in the so-called “cash for court favors” case include former Cameron County District Attorney, who was convicted but has not yet been sentenced in a related case; Ray Marchan, who committed suicide after he was sentenced to three and a half years; and Jose Martin “Joe” Valle, a “lesser player” who got one year.

Attorney Eduardo “Eddie” Lucio was acquitted in a related case. At last report he was the subject of a legal ethics investigation.

The convicted attorneys either already have given up or lost their law licenses or are expected to do so as a result of the convictions.

See also:

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

KGBT: “Memorable quotes & moments from the Marc Rosenthal sentencing”

KGBT: “Jailhouse conversion for attorney Marc Rosenthal”

Valley Morning Star: “Judge sues ex-Judge Abel Limas, ex-state Rep. Jim Solis, others”

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