New charges for former Cameron County DA Armando Villalobos
Mon, 07 Jan 2013 23:32:07 GMT —
A federal grand jury in Brownsville has handed down new criminal charges against former Cameron County District Attorney Armando Villalobos.
The grand jury met on Monday where they handed down a new, 27-page indictment for racketeering against both Villalobos and Austin-based attorney Eduardo "Eddie" Lucio.
Lucio is not the same person as neither the state senator nor the state representative.
The grand jury also handed down a separate indictment against Villalobos for allegedly lying on his 2006 income tax return.
Both Villalobos and Lucio were originally indicted for racketeering for their roles in the Judge Abel Limas "cash for court favors" scandal back in May 2012.
Monday's superseding indictment adds to allegations that have just come to light.
Villalobos is accused of abusing his office as district attorney through acts of bribery, extortion, favoritism, improper influence, personal self-enrichment, self-dealing, concealment and conflict of interest.
The former district attorney is accused of taking cash to minimize charges in court, put people on pre-trial diversion, grant favorable probation conditions and even dismiss charges.
Acts of Corruption
According to the new indictment, both Villalobos and Lucio made $80,000 dollars for fashioning a favorable plea agreement in a murder case and a companion lawsuit.
The two allegedly got former Judge Limas to go along with the scheme by giving him more than $10,000 dollars in bribes.
Both Villalobos and Lucio are accused of working with an unnamed attorney to split the proceeds of laundered money seized in a car.
There are also similar allegations against both of them for laundered money found inside a home.
Villalobos is accused of fixing two court cases for two people.
Federal prosecutors are seeking about $112,000 dollars in profits from the alleged racketeering scheme.
If convicted, both Vilalobos and Lucio face up to 20 years in federal prison and/or a $250,000 dollar fine.
Income Tax Woes
According to a new indictment filed on Monday, Villalobos is accused of lying on his 2006 income tax return.
Federal prosecutors allege he failed to report more than $155,000 dollars of gross income from his wife.
Authorities allege that under-reporting the income cost the government more than $45,000 dollars in taxes.
If convicted, Villalobos could face up to three years in federal prison and/or a $100,000 dollar fine.
Defense Attorney Speaks
Action 4 News spoke with Villalobos TM defense attorney Joel Androphy via telephone from Houston.
Androphy said the superseding indictment is the result of a legal battle to have charges dismissed in the case filed against his client.
The Houston-based attorney said many charges in the previous were duplicates and they have been fighting to have them dismissed.
Androphy said the new indictment streamlines the charges but they will continue to fight to have more of them dismissed before trial.
Their math is still off but it TMs an improvement, Androphy said.
Androphy called the new perjury charge against factually and legally incorrect.
The Houston-attorney questioned the timing of the new indictment saying it was filed three months before his client goes to trial.
It could be perceived as a distraction, Androphy said. It won TMt do them any good.
Both Villalobos and Lucio are expected to appear on Wednesday, January 16th for arraignment on the new charges before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald Morgan.
Androphy said his client will plead not guilty to all the allegations.
The Houston-based attorney said he expects his client to remain free on bond.