The FBI has charged a South Texas judge with accepting bribes after a lawyer working as a confidential informant helped agents record the jurist allegedly accepting $6,000 in cash in exchange for favorable rulings.
Federal agents arrested 93rd State District Judge Rodolfo “Rudy” Delgado of Edinburg on Feb. 2. Delgado was charged with “bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds,” and released on $100,000 bond. The criminal complaint filed against Delgado alleges the FBI worked with an unnamed lawyer, who confessed he had a history dating back to 2008 of bribing Delgado.
The lawyer-turned-informant, listed in the complaint under the initials CHS, worked with the FBI for over a year and participated in numerous recorded phone calls and meetings with Delgado.
The attorney provided Delgado with pre-recorded government funds on two occasions, according to the complaint. In each instance, Delgado allegedly accepted a bribe to place the attorney’s clients on bond.
The attorney wore a recording device as he met with Delgado at a restaurant to hand off an envelope containing the bribery money on Jan. 17, according to the complaint. Delgado allegedly accepted the bribe and then asked for the client and case number. Delgado placed the attorney’s client on bond the next day.
However, on Jan. 29, Delgado sent a text message to the attorney, which stated, “Good evening, please call me. The campaign contribution needs to be by check. I need to return that to you so you can write a check. Sorry about the confusion, I though you knew and I did not open the envelope till today.”
The complaint alleges the text message was an attempt by Delgado to cover up the bribe.
“Delgado had solicited contributions from CHS in the past, but when CHS offered Delgado the bribe, he did not say that it was a campaign donation. Furthermore, CHS offered and Delgado accepted a thick white envelope full of prerecorded government funds,” the complaint alleges. Delgado did not return a call for comment. Neither did his attorney, Adolfo “Al” Alvarez.
Eric Vinson, executive director of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, said Delgado will automatically be suspended from the bench upon indictment.
The commission normally suspends judges without pay automatically if they are indicted for a felony or a misdemeanor involving official misconduct. Judges are allowed to petition the commission to resume their pay or to return to the bench after an indictment, Vinson said, but the commission has historically not allowed indicted judges to sit in Texas.
“The Feds have 30 days to indict and we’re going to kind of watch and see what happens and go from there,” Vinson said.
Delgado has a history with the commission. He was suspended from the bench in 2005 after a grand jury indicted him in connection with a driving while intoxicated incident. That suspension was later lifted by the commission in 2007 after the criminal charges against Delgado were dismissed by a visiting judge—a decision that was later upheld by Corpus Christi’s 13th Court of Appeals.