Ending months of speculation about an impending federal indictment in Hidalgo County, the FBI has arrested a state district judge on charges of bribery.
FBI Special Agent Peter Kilpatrick has been investigating 93rd State District Judge Rodolfo “Rudy” Delgado since November 2016 for “bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds.” The investigation reports that Delgado would accept bribes in exchange for “favorable judicial consideration on cases” entering his courtroom.
The 93rd District Court is located in Hidalgo County, the Southern District of Texas, at the Hidalgo County Courthouse in Edinburg. 
On Friday, FBI agents, Texas Rangers, and Hidalgo County Sheriff’s deputies were seen simultaneously at Delgado’s Edinburg residence and his office at the Hidalgo County Courthouse. He was arrested at the Falfurrias checkpoint, en route to a “Turn Our Counties From Red to Blue” campaign event. Delgado is currently running for 13th Court of Appeals Place 4 against Republican Jaime Tijerina in the November general election. However, Delgado implied his uncertainty in his campaign status moving forward into this election.
Since 2008, a confidential informant attorney confessed he/she would bribe Delgado on his/her cases facing his courtroom. Throughout the years, the attorney would pay Delgado in exchange for favorable rulings on pending criminal cases, in cash or items of value.
For over a year, this attorney collaborated with FBI agents during recorded telephone conversations and in-person meetings with Delgado. In two particular cases, the attorney paid Delgado a total of $520, so his/her clients would receive favorable treatment by being placed on bonds for their charges.
On January 17, a set-up was created as said attorney cooperated with FBI agents and bribed Delgado with $5,500 cash (prerecorded official government funds) in a white envelope in exchange for a case where a client had a pending motion to repeal. The attorney met Delgado around 5:00 pm outside a restaurant in the Rio Grande Valley, where they were wired for audio recording. FBI agents were in close proximity as they maintained video surveillance of Delgado entering and leaving the vehicle.
Delgado accepted the bribe and requested the attorney write on a piece of paper inside the envelope the name and case number of the client for the following day. The next day, the attorney’s client was put on bond. Due to the client’s status, the bond was not guaranteed, as it was solely based on the discretion of Judge Delgado.
Kilpatrick then issued a federal complaint and arrest warrant against Delgado:

On January 29, Delgado texted said attorney, apologizing for the confusion and wanting the “campaign contribution by check.” As rumors circulated around the courthouse of a state district judge being indicted on federal charges, Ricardo Rodriguez, Hidalgo County District Attorney, said “I kind of heard the same (rumors) — just what was being said on the street.” Special Agent Kilpatrick believes those rumors reached Delgado as he attempted to cover up the bribe.
On Friday, “it was pretty obvious” according to Delgado’s attorney Alfonso “Al” Alvarez that the judge was in custody. On Monday morning, Delgado appeared before Magistrate J. Scott Hacker at the federal courthouse in McAllen and was granted a $100,000 bond, with a $2,500 cash deposit and was ordered to relinquish his passport immediately, avoid excess alcohol consumption, and prohibited any and all communications with potential co-defendants. Hidalgo County Judge Ramón Garcia, friends, and family members were in the courtroom. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Julie Searle, Robert Guerra and Trial Attorneys Peter Nothstein and Todd Gee of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section are prosecuting the case. If convicted, Delgado could face up to 10 years in federal prison.
“In America we have the presumption of innocence and I intend to let the judicial process take its course,” Delgado briefly stated to the press after he posted bond on Monday.
It is uncertain if he will continue to serve on the bench of the 93rd State District Court as the State Commission on Judicial Conduct is currently investigating allegations of judicial misconduct or judicial disability, and for disciplining judges in Texas.

Miriam Cepeda

Miriam Cepeda is the Rio Grande Valley Bureau Chief for Texas Scorecard. A second-generation Mexican American, she is both fluent in English and Spanish and has been influential in grassroots organizing and conservative engagement within Hispanic communities. If you don’t find her “Trumping”, you can find her saving animals, running her dog, hiking the Andes, or volunteering with the U.S. National Park Service.