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Texas judge gets 5 years in prison for bribery, obstruction of justice

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HOUSTON – A Texas state judge was given a five-year prison sentence by the U.S. District Court in Houston after being found guilty of bribery and obstruction of justice. 

In July, federal judge Rodolfo "Rudy" Delgado, 66, of Edinburg, Texas, was found guilty of three counts of federal program bribery, three counts of travel act bribery and one count of obstruction of justice. The jury trial lasted six days.

At the Wednesday sentencing hearing, "the court heard additional evidence and testimony that detailed the value of the bribery activities and its impact on South Texas," according to a press release from the Department of Justice. 

Delgado was a justice in the 13th Court of Appeals for the State of Texas and was elected to the bench in November 2018. Before that, he was the presiding judge for the 93rd District Court for the State of Texas, which has jurisdiction over criminal and civil cases in Hidalgo County. 

"As a district judge, Delgado conspired with an attorney from January 2008 to November 2016 to accept bribes in exchange for favorable judicial consideration on criminal cases pending in his courtroom," the Department of Justice wrote. 

Officials say Delgado accepted bribes three times, ranging from $520 to $5,500, to release an attorney's clients on bond while their cases were pending in court. 

The Federal Bureau of Investigation began investigating Delgado and when he learned of this, the Department of Justice says he tried to obstruct justice by contacting the attorney and providing a false story about the payments. 

U.S. District Judge Alfred Bennet, who sentenced Delgado, noted that a corrupt judge who abuses the trust of the public, "undermines the integrity of the entire criminal justice system and tears at the very fabric of our society." 

After his July conviction, Delgado resigned from his position on the bench of the 13th Court of Appeals. Once Delgado has served his prison time, he will be on two years of supervised release, per the sentence handed down Wednesday.