Profanity-laden telephone calls with ex-judge heard in Villalobos trial

Brownsville Federal Courthouse

Jurors in the racketeering trial of former Cameron County District Attorney Armando Villalobos heard a series of profanity-laden telephone calls in English and Spanish.

Villalobos appeared for his trial before U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen at Brownsville.

A seven-man, seven-woman jury heard opening arguments from both sides of the case.

Federal prosecutors also called former 404th State District Judge Abel Limas as their first witness.

Limas is at the center of a "cash for court favors" scandal involving Villalobos and 10 others.

As part of the former judge's testimony, prosecutors played a series of colorful cell phone calls recorded by FBI agents between Limas and others.

The Golden Rule

In the recorded telephone call, prosecutors played a colorful cell phone conversation between Villalobos and Limas.

Villalobos is heard voicing his concerns to Limas about an ongoing FBI investigation.

In colorful and sometimes profane language, the two are heard mentioning "The Golden Rule."

According to testimony from Limas, the Golden Rule was to always speak on the telephone as if you were being recorded.

Prosecutors contend that Villalobos was calling to warn Limas in the telephone call.

"You're being set up," Villalobos told Limas in the phone call.


In another call, prosecutors played a Spanish-language telephone call between defense attorney Oscar De La Fuente and Jesus Manuel "Meme" Longoria.

Longoria was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for his role in the "cash for court favors" scandal while De La Fuente is a witness against Villalobos but has not been charged.

The two are heard talking in Spanish about Limas behind his back in colorful and sometimes profane language.

De La Fuente expressed his frustration in the telephone call.

The San Benito-based attorney was heard mentioning "dulces" or "candies" in English for Limas.

Prosecutors contend that "dulces" were code language for bribes.

Other Telephone Calls

Several other telephone calls were played for jurors during the testimony of former judge Limas.

One of those phone was between Limas and former district attorney candidate Peter Zavaletta.

The two were heard expressing concerns about then-Brownsville Herald reporter Emma Perez-Trevino asking questions about a political scandal involving a political ad placed in the newspaper.

Prosecutors also played a telephone conversation between Limas and Greg Gladden, the defense attorney for Amit Livingston.

Gladden is not charged in the case but his client Livingston pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to prison but fled to India after Limas allowed him to remain free on bond to "get his affairs in order."

In another call, Limas is heard talking with attorney John Blaylock about the decision in the Livingston case.

Blaylock is not named or charges in any allegations.


FBI agents also recorded a second telephone conversation between Villalobos and Limas.

The two were recorded using expletives throughout the conversation.

Both Villalobos and Limas were heard talking about the political fallout from the Livingston case.

Limas lost his bid for re-election to challenger Elia Cornejo-Lopez who now presides over the 404th State District Court.