A federal jury has convicted a Texas state district court judge of bribery, according to a joint statement by U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick and Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
The jury convicted Rodolfo “Rudy” Delgado, 65, of Edinburg, Texas, following a six-day trial of one count of conspiracy, three counts of federal program bribery, three counts of travel act bribery and one count of obstruction of justice.
“The bribery of a judge may be the worst break of the public’s trust in government,” said Patrick. ”Rudy Delgado used his position to enrich himself. He didn’t just tip the scales of justice, he knocked it over with a wad of cash and didn’t look back. Delgado’s actions unfairly tarnish all his former colleagues.”
“No one – especially a judge – is above the law,” said Benczkowski. “Corrupt judges erode the confidence we have in our judicial system, but this verdict goes a long way in restoring that confidence.”
Delgado served as a justice in the 13th Court of Appeals for the State of Texas. He was previously the presiding judge for the 93rd District Court for the State of Texas, which has jurisdiction over Texas criminal and civil cases located within Hidalgo County, Texas.
As a district court judge, Delgado conspired with a criminal defense attorney from January 2008 to November 2016 to accept cash in exchange for favorable judicial outcomes on criminal cases assigned to his courtroom.
As part of the investigation, Delgado also accepted bribes on three separate occasions in exchange for agreeing to release three of the attorney’s clients on bond in cases pending before his court. The first two bribes totaled approximately $520 in cash and the third bribe – in January 2018 – totaled approximately $5,500.
“As is evident in the amount of money someone could buy favorable treatment by a judge, Delgado was a real bargain. His first two known acceptances of only $520.00 for the two cases is evidence of this officer-of-the-court’s bargain for corruption,” said former police detective John Willoughby”
As soon as Delgado learned of the FBI’s investigation of his activities, he attempted to obstruct justice by contacting that same attorney and discussing a false story about the bribery payments.
Sentencing has been set for Sept. 25, 2019. Delgado was permitted to remain on bond pending that hearing.
The FBI conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Arthur “Rob” Jones and Robert Guerra are prosecuting the case along with Trial Attorney Peter Nothstein of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section.