Former East Hidalgo Detention Center guard pleads guilty to bribery
A former guard at the East Hidalgo Detention Center pleaded guilty to bribery on Friday.
Former Correctional Officer Domingo Gonzalez Hernandez of Mercedes pleaded guilty Friday morning during a videoconference with his attorney, a federal prosecutor and U.S. District Judge Randy Crane.
Gonzalez Hernandez smuggled “outside food” to inmates, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy Lynn Greenbaum, who summarized the case on Friday morning. In exchange, their families provided him with cash, a gift card and a Chevrolet truck.
“Guilty,” Gonzalez Hernandez said, when asked how he pleaded.
Gonzalez Hernandez worked at the East Hidalgo Detention Center in La Villa, which holds inmates for the U.S. Marshals Service and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The 1,300-bed jail is owned by The GEO Group, a private prison company based in Boca Raton, Florida.
Gonzalez Hernandez accepted bribes from September 2016 to July 2018, according to the indictment against him.
Families provided Gonzalez Hernandez with “outside food.”
Gonzalez Hernandez placed the food in his backpack, which wasn’t searched when he reported for work, Greenbaum said. Gonzalez Hernandez left the food in a storage room, where inmates retrieved it.
A federal grand jury indicted Gonzalez Hernandez, a cook supervisor, a medical assistant and three other guards in November 2019.
A fifth guard, former Correctional Officer Amber Marie Estrada, was indicted in March. She’s accused of accepting cash and a horse in exchange for providing inmates with contraband.
Gonzalez Hernandez is scheduled for sentencing on Aug. 11. He faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in federal prison.