Villalobos Trial Set to Begin
It started with former State District Judge Abel Limas and many soon followed, like to prominent attorneys such as the late Ray Marchan " all indicted by the federal government for an elaborate corruption scheme in the courts of Cameron County.
Next to stand trial for his alleged role in the scheme, is former District Attorney Armando Villalobos. His trial begins May 13.
"A prosecution of a prominent figure in the criminal justice system sends shockwaves throughout the system," John Blaylock, Action 4 legal analyst said.
Blaylock was also at one point the attorney for the co-defendant indicted with Villalobos, Eddie Lucio - no relation to the senator or representative. He was removed from the case due to a conflict of interest. He said the federal attention on the county and scrutiny by the community have taken away the power of discretion in the courts.
"All the other judges are sort of looking over their shoulder and seeing who is watching them, Blaylock said. They are afraid to use their discretion the way they normally would. The new (District Attorney Luis Saenz), is the same way. He doesn't want to do anything outrageous."
There are nearly 450 pieces of evidence that have been submitted by prosecutors and defense attorneys. Blaylock got a look at that evidence and said the federal government alone submitted over 300 pieces of evidence.
He adds opening statements for Villalobos TM defense will be crucial.
"They are going to try to tell it in a way to engage us, draw us in - so listen closely to their opening statements, Blaylock said. It should be interesting and entertaining."
Besides Limas, many prominent people in Cameron County could be called to testify, and Blaylock said that in itself has put the justice system on edge.
"People are going to modify their behavior, there's a certain paranoia with some judges and other attorney's, he said. It's not a pleasant atmosphere for justice to thrive."
The trial, Blaylock said, could last about two weeks. If convicted on all charges, Villalobos faces up to 20 years in prison.