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      Limas corruption case prompts motion to dismiss libel lawsuit

      Jim Solis File Photo

      Guilty pleas from a Harlingen lawyer and a former judge have prompted one local attorney to ask for a multi-million dollar slander lawsuit to be thrown out of court.

      The lawsuit alleges former Cameron County District Attorney's candidate Peter Zavaletta smeared the reputation of unsuspecting people in a political campaign ad that has backfired.

      The ad ran during the Democrat primaries back in March 2008 and incorrectly and falsely named several area residents as child molesters and sex offenders.

      Court records show that the case was originally heard in the courtroom of former 404th State District Judge Abel Limas.

      One of the plaintiffs in the case was represented by Harlingen attorney Jim Solis.

      Both Limas and Solis pleaded guilty in a federal public corruption case where cash was exchanged for judicial favors.

      Federal court records show that Solis and another attorney in the case paid $8,000 dollars to Limas for favorable rulings in the case.

      The lawsuit against Zaveletta and others remains pending in the 357th State District Court.

      Zaveletta's attorney Ed Stapleton told Action 4 News that he wants the lawsuit dismissed based on the guilty pleas of both Limas and Solis.

      Stapleton filed a motion on Monday to have the lawsuit against his client dismissed.

      "It's not a fair playing field...we think it should be thrown out," Stapleton said about the case.

      A hearing is expected to take place about the motion to dismiss but no court date has been set.

      Action 4 News placed telephone calls to both Solis and Limas at their law offices in Harlingen and Brownsville.

      An attorney representing Solis said his client is not commenting due to the pending legal matter.