BROWNSVILLE, Texas (CN) – A former state judge faces a maximum of 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to trading favorable rulings in criminal cases for more than a quarter of a million dollars in bribes.
Abel Corral Limas, former elected judge of the 404th Cameron County Judicial District Court in Brownsville, pleaded guilty on March 31 before a federal judge to a one-count criminal indictment that charged him with racketeering.
A federal grand jury in Brownsville returned Limas’ indictment under seal on March 29, and it was unsealed upon Limas’ March 31 appearance. At Limas’ request, however, the court resealed the charges that afternoon for another two weeks while prosecutors hammered out the former judge’s plea deal.
U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen unsealed Limas’ indictment, plea agreement and a factual summary of his case Thursday.
Limas, 56, currently practices law in Brownsville. He served two terms as a state district judge from January 2001 to December 2008.
At his March 31 appearance Limas admitted to using his state-elected office to receiving more than $257,300 between August 2007 and January 2009 in a bribery and racketeering enterprise.
“He accepted money from criminal defendants and intermediaries in return for favorable judicial rulings in criminal cases, including terminations of probationary terms and modification of probationary terms and bond terms,” U.S. Attorney Jose Angel Moreno said in a statement. “He also accepted money and other consideration from attorneys in civil cases pending in his court in return for favorable pre-trial rulings in certain cases.”
In addition to the possible prison term, Limas faces up to five years of probation and a fine of up to twice the amount of gross proceeds he obtained through the bribery and extortion, when he is sentenced on July 5.
Prosecutors say authorities have also arrested Limas’ “middle man,” Jose Longoria, 52, a Mexican national currently residing in San Benito, Texas.
Longoria was charged on March 31 with wire fraud arising from the bribery, an honest-services crime that carries a 20-year sentence and a $250,000 maximum fine.