(CN) – A South Texas district attorney took bribes from lawyers in exchange for minimizing and dismissing charges, according to a 12-count indictment.
The indictment charges Cameron County District Attorney Armando Villalobos, 44, who also serves as the county attorney, and his former law partner Eduardo “Eddie” Lucio, 43, with scheming to take more than $100,000 in bribes and kickbacks to meddle with court cases.
“Defendant Villalobos solicited and accepted bribe money and otherwise extorted money from attorneys handling criminal cases and matters pending with the Office of the District and County Attorney of Cameron County, in return for favorable acts of prosecutorial discretion, including but not limited to, minimizing charging decisions, pretrial diversion agreements, agreements on probationary matters, and case dismissals,” the indictment said, as reported by the San Antonio Express-News.
Villalobos is currently running for a U.S. House of Representatives seat.
Villalobos knew the indictment was coming and held a news conference in his office Monday morning where he admitted he was under investigation, the San Antonio Express-News reported.
He claimed innocence, and said he does not intend to resign from office or drop out of the race for Congress, the newspaper reported.
The indictment charged Villalobos with seven counts of extortion, three counts of honest services fraud, one count of violating federal anti-racketeering laws, and one count of conspiracy to violate the RICO Act.
Lucio was also charged with the RICO Act violation and conspiracy charges, in addition to three extortion counts, and two counts of honest services fraud.
Both Villalobos and Lucio surrendered to warrants immediately after the press conference, the San Antonio Express-News reported.
The men both pleaded innocent at the arraignment, and were released on $50,000 bail.
Brownsville is the seat of Cameron County.