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Monday, April 22, 2024 | Back issues
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Bondsman Gets Prison|in Dirty Judge’s Case

BROWNSVILLE, Texas (CN) - A bail bondsman was sentenced to 16 months in federal prison for bribing a state judge to reduce his client's bond, federal prosecutors said.

Francisco "Pancho" Cisneros, 47, of Brownsville, is the eighth defendant to enter a guilty plea in the FBI's 4-year corruption probe of former state judge Abel Limas, the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement.

An indictment returned on June 21, 2011 charged Cisneros with aiding and abetting Limas' extortion by paying him the bribe.

Cisneros pleaded guilty in August, admitting he paid Limas' middleman Jose Longoria $2,000 to reduce a previously set $25,000 bond to a personal recognizance bond for Rodolfo Gracia, a defendant in a criminal drug case in Limas' court, prosecutors said in the statement.

"After receiving the money from Gracia's family members on Jan. 31, 2008, Cisneros paid the money to Longoria at the parking lot of a day-care center owned by Limas," according to the U.S. Attorney Office's statement. "FBI agents observed as Limas arrived within minutes to then meet with Longoria in the parking lot. While agents watched, Limas placed a call to his court and ordered the cash/surety bond be changed to 'personal recognizance.'

"Setting such a bond would then have allowed the release of Gracia. Longoria later admitted to FBI agents he handed the money over to Limas for that judicial order and Limas admitted to receiving at least $700 from Longoria to issue the order for a personal recognizance bond for Gracia."

Limas and Longoria pleaded guilty to federal charges and will be sentenced on March 13.

Other defendants who have pleaded guilty in the scandal include former state representative and attorney Jose Santiago Solis, attorney Jose Valle, former district attorney's office investigator Jaime Munivez, and married couple Armando and Karina Pena.

Cisneros was also fined $2,500.

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