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      Former judge Abel Limas pleads guilty in racketeering case

      It was a quick turnaround that only lasted a few hours on Thursday.

      Former 404th State District Judge Abel Limas pleaded guilty just a short time after finding himself on the other side of the law.

      A federal grand jury in Brownsville indicted the 56-year-old attorney in a racketeering case on Tuesday.

      The 17-page indictment accuses Limas of favoritism, extortion, improper influence and personal self-enrichment.

      Limas was accused of using a middleman to take more than $257,000 dollars in bribes from four local attorneys in return for preferential treatment for their clients in court.

      The names of the attorneys were not released in the indictment but the indictment listed specific court cases between January 2001 and December 2009.

      First Court Appearance

      Federal court records show that Limas appeared before U.S. Magistrate Court Judge Felix Recio in Brownsville on Thursday morning.

      Limas entered a plea of not guilty in court.

      Judge Recio issued a $50,000 unsecured bond for Limas.

      Action 4 News attempted to reach Limas via telephone at his law office on East Madison Street in Brownsville.

      A man who answered the phone said Limas was in Edinburg and was not available.

      Guilty Plea & Sentencing

      But court records show that the case did not end with the Thursday morning hearing.

      Limas returned to the Brownsville federal courthouse on Thursday afternoon where he appeared before U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen.

      The records show that Limas entered a new plea of guilty and filed a written plea agreement.

      Judge Hanen allowed Limas to remain free on a $50,000 unsecured bond but ordered the court to seal the indictment and transcript for the hearing for 14 days.

      Limas is expected to return to Hanen's court to be sentenced on Tuesday, July 5th.

      Lengthy Career

      According to the Law Office of Abel C. Limas website, Limas has defended 130 clients in jury trials in the Rio Grande Valley and Texas.

      The Brownsville attorney stated on his website that started his career as a Brownsville police officer and detective.

      The website states that Limas presided over 160 jury trials during his tenure as a judge in the 404th State District Court.

      Limas lost his bench to rival Elia Cornejo-Lopez during the Democrat Party primary election back in March 2008.


      Cornejo-Lopez and the family of a slain Edinburg teacher Hermila Hernandez campaigned against Limas' record on the bench.

      They criticized Limas for his decision to allow Hernandez's confessed killer remain free on bond before sentencing back in February 2007.

      Amit Livingston fled from justice after pleading guilty to Hernandez's murder on South Padre Island and entering into a plea agreement where he would have served 23 years in prison.

      Livingston had been out on a $500,000 cash bond prior to the plea agreement but Limas let him remain free "to get his affairs in order" before sentencing.

      The convicted killer reportedly fled back to his native India and remains a fugitive to this day.