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      Federal judge overturns convictions of late attorney Ray Marchan

      Ray Marchan (left) with Justice of the Peace Bennie Ochoa (right)

      A judge has overturned the convictions of a South Texas lawyer whose body was found on the day he was to report to prison in a judicial bribery scandal.

      U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen set aside the racketeering, extortion and mail fraud convictions of 56-year-old Ray Marchan. Marchan's appeal was pending at the time of his death.

      Marchan's body was discovered Feb. 28 after he jumped from the Queen Isabella Memorial Causeway in an apparent suicide.

      Marchan was sentenced to more than three years in prison for his role in bribing ex-state District Judge Abel Limas. Limas has pleaded guilty to racketeering and awaits sentencing.

      Courts have said deaths, before the appeals process has been exhausted, are grounds for throwing out convictions. Hanen vacated the convictions Tuesday.