A state judge charged with bribery is no longer drawing a salary from Texas taxpayers.
On March 1, 93rd State District Court Judge Rudy Delgado was formally suspended without pay by the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct. Hidalgo County Commissioners followed a similar route as they unanimously voted last week to suspend Delgado’s annual supplemental stipend of $18,000 from the county.
In February, the FBI charged Delgado with three counts of bribery and three counts of violating the Travel Act by using his cellphone for bribery transactions.
The criminal complaint stated a “confidential human source,” whose identity has been revealed as Noe Perez, confessed to FBI agents that since 2008 he bribed Delgado in exchange for “favorable judicial consideration on cases” entering the 93rd District Court.
His federal indictment details three particular instances in which Delgado was bribed by Perez, in December 2016, November 2017, and January 2018. For over a year, Perez cooperated with FBI agents. On January 17 of this year, agents set up a sting operation in which Perez gave Delgado $5,500 (prerecorded official government funds) in exchange for a ruling in favor of one of Perez’s client.
Last week, Delgado waived his appearance at the arraignment of his case and entered a plea of not guilty before a federal court in Houston.
Delgado was arrested in early February while en route to Goliad for a “Turn Our Counties From Red to Blue” campaign event. Since his arrest, the Fifth Administrative Judicial Region appointed retired Cameron County District Judge Robert Garza to replace Delgado in the 93rd District Court.
Despite his suspension, Delgado, a candidate for 13th Court of Appeals Place 4 on the Democratic primary ballot this March, still received 25,576 votes from Hidalgo County.
According to Texas Election Code, neither an arrest nor a pending indictment disqualifies a candidate from seeking office. Chapter 145 further specifies the methods for withdrawal or ineligibility as a candidate, but it seems unlikely for Delgado at this moment.
His general election opponent on the Republican ticket, Texans for Fiscal Responsibility–endorsed attorney Jaime Tijerina, is confident in his race and is not distracted with Delgado’s indictment. “I’m proud to be a Republican in Hidalgo County and in Texas,” Tijerina stated at a Hidalgo County GOP Election Night event. “We’re moving forward in our race. We’re doing everything we need to do to win November.”
Delgado’s trial has been set for May 7. If convicted of the bribery charges, Delgado faces a maximum of 10 years in federal prison and up to $250,000 in fines, as well as ineligibility as a candidate for 13th Court of Appeals.