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Attorneys, judges and lawmakers attended a “get together” Tuesday for Rudy Delgado, the former state district judge convicted on bribery and obstruction of justice charges.
Members of the Hidalgo County legal community packed the bar at Don Pepe’s Cantina in McAllen on Tuesday night, when Delgado joined them for drinks.
“I don’t think lawyers and judges should celebrate a judge that’s been convicted of bribery,” said former Hidalgo County District Attorney Rene Guerra, who frequently sparred with Delgado and didn’t attend the gathering.
A jury convicted Delgado on bribery and obstruction of justice charges in July. U.S. District Judge Alfred H. Bennett sentenced him to five years in federal prison.
“What you stand accused of tears at the very fabric of our society,” Bennett said at sentencing. “It gives air and weight to people who look upon courts with suspicion — that it does matter who you know, that it does matter the size of your bank account, that justice can be purchased.”
The conviction didn’t exactly make Delgado a pariah at the Hidalgo County Courthouse.
State District Judge Fernando Mancias invited attorneys to the party, which brought together more than a dozen members of the Hidalgo County legal community Tuesday night.
State Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, and state Rep. Sergio Muñoz Jr., D-Palmview, stopped by.
“I grew up with Rudy Delgado on the bench,” Canales said. “I cut my teeth in his courtroom as a young lawyer.”
The bribery case shocked the legal community, Canales said, adding that he always considered Delgado a good judge.
Canales said he hugged Delgado and wished him well.
“Nobody in that room that went to go say goodbye or wish Rudy well condones what he did. Not one person,” Canales said, adding that Delgado made terrible mistakes. “We were there as colleagues, we were there as friends and we were there to support his wife.”
They were joined by Mancias, state District Judge Mario E. Ramirez Jr. and Hidalgo County Court-at-Law #5 Judge Arnoldo Cantu, among others.
Prominent attorneys, including Ray Thomas, Preston Henrichson, Ric Gonzalez, Javier Peña, Roberto Jackson and Al Alvarez, also made appearances. So did attorney Joe Ramirez, who is running for the 464th state district court.
The “get together” at Don Pepe’s, which is owned by Justice of the Peace Homer Jasso Sr., served as a de facto going-away party for Delgado, who is scheduled to report to federal prison on Nov. 19.
Delgado’s attorney, Michael C. Gross of San Antonio, filed a motion to delay the report date to Jan. 18.
“Mr. Delgado is continuing with his attempt to sell his home and needs additional time in which to complete the sale,” according to the motion.
Federal prosecutors opposed the request.
“The United States believes allowing the defendant, a former elected state district judge who was convicted of using his office to commit a variety of federal bribery and corruption offenses for approximately a decade, to delay his reporting date to BOP is not warranted and would send the wrong message to the community,” according to the reply filed by federal prosecutors, who referred to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons as the BOP.
Delgado, who suffers from heart and liver problems, will serve his sentence at Federal Medical Center Fort Worth.