Day Three: Former District Judge Delgado's Trial
MCALLEN – An envelope stuffed with $5,500 in cash was passed between jurors Tuesday morning.
They held the plastic-wrapped envelope probing its thickness between their thumbs and index fingers.
Indicted Judge Rodolfo Delgado closely watched the jury with elbows on the table, hands clasped and twiddling his thumbs.
The government wanted to demonstrate to jurors the weighted and bulky envelope they seized after a Dec. 2018 covert operation in which they contend the judge knowingly accepted a bribe.
Other evidence was also shown including a post-it note recovered during the search executed at the judge’s office after his arrest.
It had the name of a defendant, his case number and Noe Perez’s name written on it. It matched the information provided by the FBI to Perez.
A federal agent testified in open court he reached out to that defendant and gained his consent to participate in the operation.
After the recorded covert meeting in Dec. 2018 showing the judge taking the cash-stuffed envelope, the defendant was released on a kind of bond that doesn’t require a payment unless the defendant doesn’t show up in court.
The government also reviewed the timing of the alleged bribes and the favorable outcomes received after their informant pays the judge cash they provided to him.
Delgado’s attorney cross-examined the agent questioning him about each specific defendant they chose to participate in the undercover meetings and the judge’s subsequent rulings.
The attorney representing the judge highlighted one of the cases where a woman received probation due to the misuse of a credit card.
She was in jail at the time she was chosen by the FBI agent for violating the terms of her probation.
As Delgado’s legal counsel pointed out, she had observed her probation for five years. When her case came before Delgado, she had already sat in jail for 30 days.
These two factors would have been considered by any judge, the defense argued.
In another case in which Delgado dealt a favorable ruling after a meeting with Perez, his attorneys pointed out the judge also issued the defendant be placed under the Alternative Incarceration Program.
The program, the defense showed through court records, requires the defendant be placed under strict supervision parameters including travel restrictions, possible ankle monitor placement, and carrying ID and daily itineraries in case a law enforcement officer should require it.
Delgado’s attorney questioned whether the timing of the judge’s rulings were in fact related to the bribes the government claimed he took.
The agent testified in court there was confusion about the circumstances recorded in the undercover operations up until December.
The defense seized on that statement to further cast doubt on whether the rulings were related with what at times were not easily observed transactions of the cash from Perez to Delgado in the first three recorded undercover operations.
The agent explained they wanted to capture a better angle in the last recorded interview. That was the reason for placing a second camera, other than the one worn by Perez.
The second angle was directed toward the passenger seat in the vehicle Delgado boarded prior to taking the cash from Perez on Dec. 2018.
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