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Former District Judge Rodolfo “Rudy” Delgado was found guilty on all counts of bribery and obstruction of justice on July 11. He now awaits a sentencing trial in September where he could receive a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. Delgado was convicted of accepting bribes from Edinburg local attorney Noe Perez.

Their initial interactions began in 2008 when Perez gifted Delgado a truck in hopes of gaining the favor of the judge in the courtroom. Perez also began giving Delgado money by overpaying for firewood at Delgado’s house and would sometimes even hide cash in cases of beer.  

A difficulty for the prosecution was the inability to establish a direct quid pro quo between Delgado and Perez where a gift given by Perez produced a direct action in the courtroom. However, they maintained there was a mutual understanding between the two, and these bribes were given with the intent of influencing the outcome of Perez’s cases in the judge’s court.

The FBI began their investigation in 2016. Delgado learned of the investigation against him in January 2018 after discussions with state elected officials. State Rep. Bobby Guerra (D–Mission) heard rumors of the investigation and discussed it with then-State Sen. Chuy Hinojosa (D–McAllen). 

A few days later, Hinojosa mentioned the investigation to Delgado, which raised Delgado’s suspicions and prompted him to meet with Guerra on January 28 to learn more. Delgado then sent a text to Perez to try and disguise their interactions as legal. In the text, he told Perez he could not accept $5,500 in cash, which Delgado had recently received in an envelope from him as a campaign contribution, and that Perez would have to instead write a check. 

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas was emphatic in a press release, stating, “Rudy Delgado used his position to enrich himself. He didn’t just tip the scales of justice, he knocked it over with a wad of cash and didn’t look back. Delgado’s actions unfairly tarnish all his former colleagues.”

Sadly, such instances of corruption among elected officials are too common in the Rio Grande Valley, and this is only the most recent case. In fact, Delgado, who was indicted in February 2018, was elected to Place 4 of the 13th Court of Appeals only nine months later, in November 2018. 

Unfortunately, change will not come to the RGV until voters demand change and refuse to reward corruption. 

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