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Former San Antonio attorney sentenced to 10 years in prison

Hilda Valadez sentenced for crimes arising from scheme forging judge signatures

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Often sobbing, attorney Hilda Valadez told Judge Stephen Abels that she has turned her life around and regrets the mistakes of her past -- mistakes prosecutor Patrick Ballentyne described during closing arguments as "the work of a person who's greed overcame her integrity."

Valadez pleaded guilty in March to charges of fraud and securing and executing a document by deception.

As a court- appointed attorney, she would bill the county for legal work done for indigent jail inmates -- work that often was not performed.

An official in the county auditor's office said that between 2008 and 2011, Valadez was paid $594,639 in court-appointed attorney's fees.

Before being sentenced, Valadez told the judge, "I don't want to go to prison, but I know you've made your mind up."

Abels sentenced Valadez to 10 years in state prison but said he would retain jurisdiction over her case for 180 days.

The decision means that if he deems it is appropriate he can release Valadez on what is called "shock probation" at any time during that period. He indicated that payment of full restitution would certainly influence any decision he made.