State judge pleads not guilty to federal bribery charges

A suspended state district judge accused of accepting bribes in his court in exchange for favors pleaded not guilty in a motion filed Monday, according to court records.

Rodolfo “Rudy” Delgado’s motion waived his presence at his scheduled arraignment in Houston this Friday. Additionally, he entered a not guilty plea in connection with three federal bribery charges and as many charges related to violating the Travel Act.

“Defendant, having conferred with his attorney in his regard, hereby waives personal appearance with attorney at the arraignment of this case and the reading of the indictment, and tenders his plea of not guilty through this document,” the record states. “The defendant understands that the court’s entry of his plea will conclude the arraignment in this case.”

Delgado’s plea comes on the heels of a six-count indictment handed down by a Houston federal grand jury last Wednesday, finding there to be enough evidence to move the case to trial.

The indictment outlines three incidents in which Delgado took bribes in exchange for a favorable decision for the client of a local attorney.

In the first incident, Delgado solicited and accepted cash from an attorney in a case involving a federal program.

The last alleged bribe, where more than $5,000 was given to Delgado, took place in January of this year.

In this incident, the same attorney as in the first incident, but representing a different client, “paid Delgado approximately $5,500,” the court record states. “…Delgado granted (the client) a $5,000 personal recognizance bond and … was released from jail.”

Last week, the State Commission on Judicial Conduct suspended Delgado, who has presided over the 93rd state District Court for more than 10 years, without pay until further notice from the commission.

Delgado also filed another motion to travel outside of the Rio Grande Valley, citing the need to travel to San Antonio and Austin to confer with his attorneys in the lead-up to his trial.

Along with the motions filed; the court set the scheduling order for Delgado with a trial date for May 7 that begins with jury selection, the record states.

If convicted of the bribery charges, Delgado faces a maximum of 10 years in federal prison and up to $250,000 in fines.