Ex-Texas attorney pleads guilty to pocketing $1,500 from defendant’s mother in extortion case, feds say

Victor Canales told U.S. district judge it was a ‘moment of weakness,’ report says

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McAllen, Texas – A former Rio Grande Valley attorney recently pleaded guilty to extorting $1,500 from a defendant’s mother after she sought him out for help, federal authorities say.

Victor Canales, 50, from Starr County, was charged with extortion under color of law.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office-Southern District of Texas, Canales was a Starr County attorney from 2005 to 2022 and prosecuted misdemeanor crimes.

A news release states that a woman contacted Canales in September 2021 because her son was charged with three misdemeanor offenses. Canales told the woman that if she paid him $1,500, “he could take care of the Starr County tickets,” the release states.

After the woman sent three money orders totaling $1,500 to Canales, he deposited the money into his own bank accounts.

The release adds he used the money “for his own personal needs rather than depositing the monies into the Starr County account.”

During a hearing on Tuesday, Canales told U.S. District Judge Ricardo Hinojosa that it was a “moment of weakness” and arranged for the charges to be dropped, the Valley Central reported.

Canales will be sentenced on Dec. 15. He faces up to 20 years in prison and a possible fine of up to $250,000. He is out on bond while he awaits sentencing.

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Rebecca Salinas joined KSAT in the fall of 2019. Her skills include content management, engagement and reporting.