Another one bites the dust in the Rio Grande Valley as 93rd State District Judge Rodolfo “Rudy” Delgado resigned and retired from the bench on Monday amid federal bribery charges.
Since February, Delgado has undergone a series of disgraceful events. He has been arrested, indicted, and suspended without pay. He has been charged by the FBI with three counts of bribery and three counts of violating the Travel Act when he used his cellphone for bribery transactions. In the criminal complaint, a “confidential human source,” whose identity has been revealed as attorney Noe Perez, confessed to FBI agents that since 2008 he has bribed Delgado in exchange for “favorable judicial consideration on cases” entering the 93rd District Court.
In addition, according to a motion for continuance that Delgado’s attorney filed, federal prosecutors stated that a “superseding indictment is possible.” This could contain new charges, different charges, and/or additional defendants. Rumors have circulated the Hidalgo County courthouse of pending indictments, but nothing has surfaced as of yet.
In his resignation letter on Monday, Delgado defended his innocence and claimed his resignation and retirement should not be interpreted as “culpability with respect to the pending charges.” He said his resignation is “simply the right thing to do.”
Delgado referred to three particular instances in the past two years where he was allegedly bribed by Perez. On January 17 of this year, FBI agents set up a sting operation in which Perez gave Delgado $5,500 (prerecorded government funds) in exchange for a favorable ruling toward one of Perez’s clients. When rumors of a federal indictment surfaced, Delgado attempted to return the money, but was then arrested.
On March 1, Delgado was formally suspended without pay by the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct. Subsequently, on March 13 the Hidalgo County Commissioners Court voted unanimously to suspend Delgado’s annual supplemental stipend of $18,000. Since his arrest, the Fifth Administrative Judicial Region appointed retired Cameron County District Judge Robert Garza to replace Delgado in the 93rd District Court on a bi-weekly basis.
A special election will occur sometime in November to fill the two-year remainder of Delgado’s term. Both Democrat and Republican party chairs are seeking candidates.
However, since Delgado is set to be the Democratic nominee for 13th Court of Appeals Place 4, it remains to be seen what will occur in that race, as he is devoting his “time and energy to assist my defense team.”
His opponent, city of Mission attorney Jaime Tijerina, states, “I don’t want to get too confident; so many things can happen. We’re still running our race, and there’s a lot of unknowns.”
“Overall, I’m saddened for the community,” he added, but “we’ll keep trying to build that confidence back again with the public.”
Tijerina is endorsed by Texans for Fiscal Responsibility.
Delgado’s trial is scheduled for September 10 before a federal court in Houston.