Proceedings will begin soon to deport two Mexican nationals who were sentenced to 12 months and one day in federal prison for conspiring to give $1.2 million to bribe U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks of Austin.
Because Francisco Agustin Colorado Cebado and Ramon Segura Flores have already been imprisoned since Sept. 5, 2013, both have already served the one-year prison sentence for the crime, conspiracy to bribe a public official, for which they pleaded guilty. The maximum sentence would have been five years in prison.
Senior Judge Donald E. Walter of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana accepted the terms of plea agreements, also sentencing them each to pay a $10,000 fine and $100 assessment. Both men must serve three years of supervised release, but because they will be deported, it will be nonreporting supervised release unless they return to the United States.
One “factor” for the agreement was that the case might have led to a long and hard trial, explained Paul Nugent, who represents Flores.
“It would have been difficult for both sides. It would have been a long and hard-fought struggle. Could have been a-month-or-two trial. So both sides came to a reasonable settlement,” said Nugent, partner in Nugent & Peterson in Houston.
Daryl Fields, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Texas, wrote in an email, “In this case, agents uncovered and disrupted the bribery scheme before it could be carried out. The defendants have remained in custody since they were arrested last September. They are now convicted felons and will be removed from the U.S. upon completion of their prison sentences. These felony convictions and removals should disqualify them from legally entering the U.S. in the future.”
David Gerger, who represents Colorado Cebado, declined to comment on how he achieved the result in the case.
“Mr. Colorado Cebado is relieved to put this behind him. He is a young man with a bright future and will be home soon with his family,” said Gerger, the managing partner of the Houston office of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan.
Nugent said, “Mr. Flores is relieved that this is behind him. He feels it was a fair and just settlement.”
Sparks didn’t return a call seeking comment.
A third defendant who also pleaded guilty to the same charge, Francisco Antonio Colorado Cessa, faces sentencing in October.
Colorado Cessa is the father of Colorado Cebado and a business asso­ciate of Flores.
The father, Colorado Cessa, had been convicted of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments on May 9, 2013, and Sparks was scheduled to preside over his sentencing.
That conviction related to Colorado Cessa and his company funneling “a large amount of currency derived from the sale of illegal narcotics by the Los Zetas Drug Trafficking Organization,” explained the indictment in the bribery case.
The three bribery defendants conspired to bribe Sparks in exchange for a reduced sentence for Colorado Cessa. Undercover officers recorded more than 500 hours of conversations. Sparks never knew of the scheme. [See "Three Charged With Conspiring to Bribe Federal Judge," Texas Lawyer, Sept. 30, 2013, page 6.]
The three men also were charged with bribery of a public official, and Flores also faced a perjury charge, according to the Oct. 1, 2013, indictment in the case. Nugent and Gerger said that those charges were dismissed for Colorado Cebado and Flores.
At the sentencing, both defendants made statements to the court, speaking in Spanish through an interpreter. Both men said that they were guilty and wanted to return home to Mexico.
“I also want to apologize to the U.S. government and to this court for having offended it,” said Colorado Cebado.
Flores said, “I will never come back to this country again.”
Doug Gardner, an assistant U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas who represented the government in the case, didn’t return a call seeking comment.