Federal judge denies motion to release former state District Judge Rudy Delgado from prison
A federal judge denied former state District Judge Rudy Delgado’s request for compassionate release on Tuesday, concerned that allowing Delgado to serve just six months of a five-year sentence would be “nothing short of a travesty of justice.”
Rodolfo “Rudy” Delgado, 67, of Edinburg filed an emergency motion for compassionate release last month, when COVID-19 swept through the federal prison system.
Delgado, who suffers from hypertension, diabetes and other health problems, asked the federal judge to release him. The motion requested that Delgado be resentenced to time served or allowed to serve the remainder of the sentence at home.
Prosecutors opposed the motion. They accused Delgado of “trying to use his age and medical conditions as a way of avoiding responsibility” for his crimes.
U.S. District Judge Alfred H. Bennett of Houston denied the motion on Tuesday afternoon.
“Though the Court appreciates that Defendant’s age and some of his health conditions are recognized by the CDC as factors that might place him at higher risk for severe illness if COVID-19 is contracted, the Court finds that the COVID-19-related reasons offered by Defendant do not constitute ‘extraordinary and compelling’ reasons that warrant a sentence reduction to a time-served sentence,” Bennett wrote, citing the federal sentencing guidelines. “Further, permitting Defendant to serve approximately six months of his 60-month sentence after a jury of his peers returned guilty verdicts — on one count of conspiracy to commit federal program bribery, three counts of federal program bribery, three counts of interstate travel in aid of racketeering, and one count of obstruction of justice — would be nothing short of a travesty of justice.”
Attorney Michael McCrum of San Antonio, who filed the motion for compassionate release, said the decision shocked him.
“I’m not only disappointed in the judge’s decision, frankly I’m shocked,” McCrum said in an email. “It’s a sad testament to where our country’s system and perspective has evolved.”
Delgado remains at Federal Medical Center Fort Worth, where more than 600 inmates tested positive for COVID-19 during the past two months, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. Nine died.
“Where does this leave Judge Delgado?” McCrum said in the email. “He is left to hope ... hope that the virus doesn’t creep into his body while he is trapped in a facility that cannot carry out its duty to protect people. Hope that other judges view his appeal positively.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas, which prosecuted Delgado, declined to comment on the decision.
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