A corrupt Rio Grande Valley judge is headed to federal prison following his sentencing this week in a long-brewing bribery scandal.
Former Hidalgo County District Judge Rodolfo “Rudy” Delgado will serve five years behind bars after being found guilty of several bribery and corruption charges in June. The sentence is half the maximum possible sentence of 10 years for the convictions.
Delgado’s sentencing is the culmination of an FBI investigation begun in 2016. At the time, Delgado was alleged to have accepted bribes and gifts from local Edinburg attorney Noe Perez in exchange for granting Perez’ clients favorable rulings in his court. Their initial interactions began in 2008 when Perez gifted Delgado a truck in hopes of gaining the judge’s favor in the courtroom. Perez also began giving Delgado money by overpaying for firewood at Delgado’s house and hiding cash in cases of beer he would take to Delgado.
Delgado became aware of the investigation surrounding him when he was tipped off by State Rep. R.D. “Bobby” Guerra (D–Mission) and State Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D–McAllen), who told him they heard rumors of an investigation.
The former judge will serve 60 months in prison, followed by two years of supervised release.
A press release from the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas stressed the importance of people reporting questionable behavior. “We can only hold corrupt officials accountable if people refuse to accept this behavior and are willing to cooperate and come forward with information,” said Christopher Combs, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Antonio division.
U.S. Attorney Ryan Patrick tweeted:
As a former district court judge, this case was particularly galling. Judges wield so much power with comparatively little oversight that when they are caught in bribery, they should go to prison. https://t.co/0QFHeF7Caw
— US Attorney Ryan Patrick (@USAttyPatrick) September 26, 2019
Delgado’s conviction and sentencing may give citizens in the Rio Grande Valley renewed confidence they can receive justice and a fair hearing.
RGV voters must continue to hold their elected officials accountable and refuse to reward corruption.