A federal judge sentenced the informant who testified against former La Joya police Chief Geovani Hernandez to time served Friday, punishing him for theft of government funds.
U.S. District Judge Ricardo Hinojosa sentenced Hector Obed Saucedo-Rodriguez — the informant who spent three days on the witness stand last week, testifying about how Hernandez accepted cash to protect cocaine shipments — Friday morning in McAllen.
“I do appreciate everything that you have done,” Hinojosa said, adding that Saucedo-Rodriguez provided the government with important information and possibly prevented other crimes from occuring. “And I hope that you never find yourself in this situation again.”
Saucedo-Rodriguez, a shady businessman with Gulf Cartel connections, became a government informant after federal agents arrested his wife on drug trafficking charges.
Agents with Homeland Security Investigations, a division of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, asked him to record conversations with Hernandez.
Saucedo-Rodriguez discussed several business deals with Hernandez, including a tow truck company and underground game rooms. They met near Weslaco, where Hernandez owned a small ranch.
Agents provided Saucedo-Rodriguez with cash to pay Hernandez for information. After they developed a rapport, Saucedo-Rodriguez asked him to protect cocaine shipments.
While federal agents watched, Hernandez provided security for two cocaine shipments. Both shipments went through Progreso, where Hernandez served as a police sergeant. Agents arrested him on Aug. 12, 2017.
The arrest made headlines in Hidalgo County.
Hernandez had worked for eight Rio Grande Valley police departments, the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Border Patrol. Along the way, he mounted an unsuccessful campaign for Hidalgo County sheriff and headed the La Joya police department.
During the investigation, however, federal agents caught Saucedo-Rodriguez lying and stealing government money.
In a particularly egregious example, Saucedo-Rodriguez said he needed $2,000 to pay Hernandez for information. He kept the money and never paid Hernandez.
Faced with a federal theft charge, Saucedo-Rodriguez spent 548 days in jail. Saucedo-Rodriguez also spent three days on the witness stand last week, when he testified against Hernandez.
Prosecutors asked Saucedo-Rodriguez to provide context for the recorded conversations, which captured Hernandez talking about drug shipments.
Along with walking the jury through the recordings, Saucedo-Rodriguez testified about an incident where Hernandez handed over his badge.
“He offered me a T-shirt showing ‘drug police.’ To show that I had done my job and that I had been with him,” Saucedo-Rodriguez told the jury through an interpreter. “But I didn’t want to accept it and I told him ‘No.’”
Wearing the T-shirt would just attract unwanted attention.
“But he gave me, instead, his police officer badge,” Saucedo-Rodriguez said, adding that he showed the badge to federal agents.
The jury found Hernandez guilty. He faces 10 years to life in federal prison.
Saucedo-Rodriguez returned to court Friday morning for sentencing on the theft charge. Asked whether or not he wanted to say anything, Saucedo-Rodriguez declined.
“Well, whatever I say isn’t going to change anything,” Saucedo-Rodriguez said. “Just to apologize for what I did.”