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Faced with federal bribery charges, state District Judge Rudy Delgado abruptly resigned on Monday.
Delgado announced the decision Monday afternoon during a news conference at the Hidalgo County Courthouse.
“Some people may consider this announcement as some type of admission of culpability with respect to the pending charges,” Delgado said, reading from a prepared statement. “They would be wrong in doing so. It is simply the right thing to do.”
After reading the statement, Delgado left without taking any questions.
Rodolfo “Rudy” Delgado, 65, of Edinburg spent nearly three decades on the bench.
Delgado started at Hidalgo County Court at Law #1, where he served during the 1990s. When 93rd state District Judge Fernando Mancias retired, Delgado ran for the seat — and won.
Controversy dogged him from the start.
Delgado tangled with the Edinburg Police Department, which charged him with driving while intoxicated. When the first case fell apart, then-District Attorney Rene Guerra attempted to prosecute Delgado on new charges.
Judges dismissed both cases and Delgado, who spent two years suspended with pay, returned to work.
Delgado also survived liver cancer and lost two sons while serving on the bench.
“He’s been a real good judge. He worked hard. He was fair,” said Mancias, who became a prominent criminal defense attorney and briefly represented Delgado. “He listened with an open heart and an open mind.”
After serving three terms, Delgado started campaigning for the 13th Court of Appeals last year. He ran unopposed in the Democratic Party primary.
Apparently unbeknownst to Delgado, though, the FBI had been investigating him for years.
After an attorney confessed to paying Delgado for court favors, FBI agents recorded several meetings between them, according to the criminal complaint against him. After taking two small bribes, Delgado accepted a white envelope stuffed with $5,500 cash.
FBI agents arrested Delgado in February during a traffic stop in Jim Wells County.
Prosecutors presented the evidence to a grand jury, which indicted Delgado on three counts of federal program bribery and three counts of violating the federal Travel Act. He pleaded not guilty.
“Although the media has reported the allegations, please know that there is much more to the story of what happened than is being disclosed by the government,” Delgado said, adding later: “I will not discuss anything about the allegations in the pending indictment against me other than to maintain my innocence.”
Mancias, who represented Delgado after the arrest, said the charges blindsided him.
“I can’t disclose conversations that I had with him, because I was representing him at one point, but I can tell you from my perspective he was as shocked as anybody else,” Mancias said. “I don’t believe he knew it was coming.”
Delgado hired a prominent San Antonio defense attorney, Michael McCrum, to represent him. He’s scheduled for trial in September.
“I think he’s going to prevail in his criminal case,” Mancias said. “I really do.”