Former Texas judge sentenced for accepting cash bribes stashed in beer boxes

60 months in prison for Rodolfo Delgado of Edinburg

By Faith Karimi, CNN

Former judge Rodolfo Delgado will serve 60 months in prison and get two years of supervised release. (CNN/KGBT)

(CNN) - A former Texas judge was sentenced to five years in federal prison after he was found guilty of accepting cash bribes to issue favorable court decisions.

A federal jury in Houston convicted Rodolfo Delgado, 66, of Edinburg, of one count of conspiracy, three counts of federal program bribery, three counts of travel act bribery and one count of obstruction of justice.

In addition to the 60 months in prison, he will get two years of supervised release.

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"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," US Attorney Ryan K. Patrick said. "Delgado's actions unfairly tarnish all his former colleagues."

Delgado was a judge for the 93rd district court in Texas, and had jurisdiction over criminal and civil cases within Hidalgo County.

Between January 2008 and November 2016, he conspired with an attorney to accept bribes in exchange for favorable judicial consideration on criminal cases in his courtroom, said the US attorney's office for the southern district of Texas.

One of the attorneys started working as an informant for the FBI in 2016, and would take beer boxes to the judge and slip money into them, CNN affiliate KRGV reported.

During their meetings, the judge and the attorney discussed purchasing "wood," which the latter described as the code word for judicial favors. On incidents caught on record, the attorney is heard asking Delgado to help him out with a potential client, the affiliate reported. In some cases, Delgado accepted cash, and asked for details such as the case number, according to the affiliate.

He accepted bribes on three occasions in exchange for agreeing to release three of an attorney's clients on bond. The bribes ranged between $520 and $5,500, said the US attorney's office.

When he found out he was being investigated by the FBI, authorities say he tried to obstruct justice by contacting the attorney and providing a false story about the payments.

Delgado was free on bond after his July conviction. After his sentencing Wednesday, he will voluntarily surrender to a yet undetermined US Bureau of Prisons facility.

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