Day Two: Former Judge Rudy Delgado's Trial
MCALLEN – “Lawyers, we talk,” explained State Representative Robert Guerra as he described how rumors circulating among the legal community led to then Judge Rodolfo Delgado prematurely discovering an ongoing federal investigation against him in January 2018.
Just as soon as the courts closed on Thursday evening of Jan. 25, 2018, State Senator Juan Jesus “Chuy” Hinojosa told jurors he invited Delgado out to a restaurant for drinks.
Upon arriving, Delgado received a call from long-time friend and civil litigation attorney Carlos Guerra. Both left to meet with Guerra at his house.
They drank wine and Hinojosa informed them of the rumors he’d heard the day before from State Rep. Guerra.
They spoke about an FBI investigation involving bribery and the selling of overpriced firewood.
According to Carlos Guerra, Hinojosa said an agent with knowledge of the investigation confirmed it to him.
Delgado reportedly responded by saying “that was the real concern.”
Hinojosa said the judge’s demeanor changed immediately and the mood grew silent and awkward.
After learning of the rumor, Rep. Guerra testified he was asked into the Judge Delgado’s chambers. That’s when he asked Guerra about the rumors.
“I was in shock,” he said of Delgado addressing the possible investigation. “All I wanted was out of that chamber,” Guerra added.
After learning Hinojosa divulged the rumor he’d shared with him, Rep. Guerra confronted Hinojosa.
Guerra felt it was a confidential conversation, but Hinojosa said he hadn’t realized it was shared in confidence and apologized for sharing the information with Delgado.
After engaging in the conversation discussing the rumors, Delgado sent a text message to Noe Perez, a local criminal attorney and FBI informant.
In the message sent Jan. 29, 2018, Delgado asked Perez to convert the money into a check.
The prosecution claimed he did this after learning of the investigation and to disguise the bribe as a donation.
Delgado’s counsel pointed out a prior conversation in a recorded meeting where the judge and Perez speak about a possible contribution.
They contend the former judge took the cash under the impression it was a contribution to his campaign and charitable foundation – a breakdown of how much was given for each was not provided.
Perez came under scrutiny on the second day of trial. He was cross examined by Delgado’s attorney.
He was questioned about the meeting he had with the FBI Nov. 2016.
Agents coordinated that meeting after working with a previous client.
Together, the client and the FBI, recorded a meeting with Perez in which he led the client to believe he could bribe a judge, not Delgado, to receive a favorable outcome in their case.
He attempted to charge them $10,000 to take up the case.
During that meeting, attorneys for Delgado established agents repeatedly asked Perez for information regarding the practice of bribes.
Perez admitted to agents he had only been misleading clients to get more money out of them.
When pressed, Perez said he only “hustled” those who he believed to be in the drug trade and who hurt people to make money.
Delgado’s attorney also questioned Perez on whether he had agreed to help the FBI out of fear. He agreed saying he was under a threat of facing criminal charges and possible disbarment.
The trial is running ahead of schedule. It resumes on Tuesday, July 9, 2019.