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Concerned about the coronavirus, former state District Judge Rudy Delgado wants to be released from prison

5 months 2 days 15 hours ago Monday, April 27 2020 Apr 27, 2020 April 27, 2020 12:12 PM April 27, 2020 in News - Coronavirus Pandemic
Former state District Judge Rudy Delgado, left, with his former attorney, Al Alvarez of McAllen. (KRGV File Photo.)

Concerned about the coronavirus, former state District Judge Rudy Delgado — who is serving a five-year sentence for bribery and obstruction of justice — wants a federal judge to release him from prison.

Attorney Michael McCrum of San Antonio, who represents Delgado, filed an emergency motion for compassionate release on Monday.

Delgado, who suffers from a myriad of health problems, is serving his sentence at Federal Medical Center Fort Worth, where more than 230 inmates tested positive for the virus, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

“This Court never intended its sentence of imprisonment to practically result in a death sentence,” according to the motion. “It is not hyperbole to consider that Mr. Delgado is serving a sentence in a situation in which there is a significant likelihood of severe illness and death.”

The FBI arrested Rodolfo “Rudy” Delgado, 67, of Edinburg in February 2018 after a lengthy investigation.

An informant recorded Delgado accepting cash in exchange for court favors. Delgado pleaded not guilty.

A jury convicted Delgado on one count of conspiracy to commit bribery, three counts of bribery, one count of obstruction of justice and three counts of violating the federal Travel Act.

U.S. District Judge Alfred H. Bennett sentenced Delgado to five years in prison.

“What you stand accused of tears at the very fabric of our society,” Bennett said at sentencing. “It gives air and weight to people who look upon courts with suspicion — that it does matter who you know, that it does matter the size of your bank account, that justice can be purchased.”

Delgado self-reported to prison in November.

“While Mr. Delgado appreciates that he has served 5 months of a ‘60-month’ sentence, he never contemplated the extreme medical danger that he now faces,” according to the motion. “The Court may also consider that a reduction to time served (coupled with a condition of home confinement) can be based on the reasoning behind the ‘shock probation’ sentencing concept utilized in Texas and other states.”

Delgado, who is diabetic, suffers from hypertension and a heart condition called hypercholesteremia. The motion also describes him as immunocompromised.

“Burdened with so many high-risk factors, one would think that special attention would have
to be paid to Mr. Delgado to protect him from contracting COVID-19,” according to the motion. “Unfortunately, not so.”

Delgado shares a small cell with a 79-year-old man, according to the motion. When he leaves the cell, Delgado is constantly surrounded by other inmates and can’t practice social distancing.

“Given that this is a medical facility, coughing and sneezing and other bodily functions are common,” according to the motion. “Masks have been issued to each prisoner, but most often are not worn by many of the prisoners, particularly the younger ones, and prison officials do not mandate that they be worn, except for certain isolated instances.”

The motion asks Bennett, the federal judge who presided over Delgado’s trial, to reduce his sentence to time served or “a sentence of time-served followed by a term of supervised release that requires home confinement for a period of time.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas declined to comment on the motion.

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