Accused of accepting multiple bribes in exchange for favorable rulings on the bench, a former state district judge in South Texas was recently convicted of several bribery charges and one count of obstruction of justice. Unbeknownst to the judge, the attorney who paid the bribes to him also became a confidential informant for the FBI.
From January 2008 to November 2016, Rodolfo “Rudy” Delgado, the former presiding judge for the 93rd District Court for the State of Texas, accepted bribes from an unidentified attorney in exchange for favorable judicial rulings. In November 2016, the FBI launched an investigation into Delgado and flipped the attorney into becoming a confidential informant.
In addition to investigating the prior bribes, the FBI used the informant to record audio and video evidence of Delgado accepting three bribes for a total of $6,020 in exchange for judicial favors that were immediately enacted after receiving the cash payments. According to the criminal complaint, Delgado’s first two bribes totaled approximately $520 in cash and the third bribe – in January 2018 – totaled approximately $5,500.
In February 2018, Delgado was arrested and indicted on federal bribery charges. The State Commission on Judicial Conduct suspended him the following month. Delgado resigned in April 2018.
Last November, Delgado was elected to the 13th Court of Appeals for the State of Texas. He was suspended shortly after being sworn in.
On Thursday, a federal jury convicted Delgado on one count of conspiracy, three counts of federal program bribery, three counts of travel act bribery, and one count of obstruction of justice. After Delgado learned of the FBI’s investigation, he attempted to obstruct justice by contacting the attorney and providing a false story about the illicit payments.
“The bribery of a judge may be the worst break of the publics’ trust in government,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan Patrick. “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.”
“No one – especially a judge – is above the law,” stated Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “Corrupt judges erode the confidence we have in our judicial system, but this verdict goes a long way in restoring that confidence.”
Delgado’s sentencing is scheduled for September 25. He faces up to 70 years in federal prison.