Father of police officer sentenced in Panama Unit scandal speaks out

Panama Unit File Photo

A long and emotional day in court ended with the final six suspects in the panama unit corruption scandal being sent to federal prison.

But the father of one of the suspects spoke to Action 4 News about the sentencing.

Hidalgo Police Chief Rudy Espinoza spoke about his son Alexis Espinoza.

"It saddens me because I'm going to lose my son... but for several years... not for a lifetime," Chief Espinoza said.

Alexis and five other suspects in the Panama Unit corruption scandal appeared for sentencing in mcallen's federal court on Wednesday morning.

The daylong hearing ended with all of them getting more than 10 years in prison.

Alexis Espinoza received a 14-year sentence.

"It's sad," Chief Espinoza said. "This is something that could have been and should have been prevented."

Chief Espinoza and several members of his family were in the courtroom.

Some family members were sobbing as the U.S. Marshals led Alexis out of the court.

The chief says he did not know about his son's illegal activities until his arrest but supported the federal investigation.

"As a professional, I supported the investigation 100 percent," Chief Espinoza said. "As a father, I actually came in and thanked the agents for stepping in and putting a stop to it."

Chief Espinoza once worked at the Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office under ex-Sheriff Lupe Trevio, who recently pleaded guilty to federal money laundering charges.

The chief said Alexis and the sheriff's son Jonathan Trevino played baseball teams together as children.

The two reunited while both of them worked at the Mission Police Department.

That's where Chief Espinoza said they had little or no supervision and got into trouble.

"I think what lead to the demise was lack of leaderhip, lack of experience," Chief Espinoza said. "You let a young group go out there and enter into deep waters. They're going to make them a perfect example of what could happen."

Jonathan Trevino got 17 years in federal prison, the highest sentencing in the scandal.

Trevino, Espinoza and the others sentenced today are all in custody tonight waiting for their federal prison assignment.