Court grants continuance in ex-bailiff’s forgery, trafficking case

McALLEN — The trial for a former Hidalgo County bailiff accused of forging a federal judge’s signature and participating in a drug conspiracy will be delayed a couple of months.

U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez granted a continuance Wednesday for Oscar De La Cruz, who faces one count of forgery and one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine.

De La Cruz’s attorney, Ricardo L. Salinas, filed the motion for continuance Wednesday morning, citing the need to review additional discovery.

The defendant is accused of forging former U.S. Magistrate Judge Dorina Ramos’ signature on a federal seizure warrant, court records show. Ramos retired in December 2017.

According to the indictment, De La Cruz allegedly forged Ramos’ signature “for the purposes of authenticating a document, to wit, an anticipatory search and seizure warrant.”

De La Cruz hired Salinas in late May after his previous attorney, Edinburg-based Santos Maldonado, was forced to withdraw from the case at a May 15 hearing when the court ruled that a conflict existed as a result of Maldonado representing another defendant in the same case.

In addition to forgery, De La Cruz is tied to a conspiracy charge in which the government alleges the defendants conspired to possess and distribute more than 5 kilos of cocaine between January 2016 and February 2018, the indictment states.

The government believes De La Cruz used his access to sensitive court and law enforcement records and documents to aide drug smugglers in stealing loads of drugs from suppliers in Mexico.

In De La Cruz’s complaint, individuals referred to as “CS 1” and “CS 2” outlined how they worked with an official at the Hidalgo County courthouse to get their hands on “fictitious” court documents, helping them steal the substance from suppliers.

“CS 1 further stated that during this period, he and others used these false documents to steal more than 5 kilograms of cocaine,” the complaint states.

CS 2 stated he was using someone named “Oscar,” who was working at the Hidalgo County Courthouse, to help them get their hands on the documents.

Eventually, one of these “fake” documents ended up in the hands of federal agents.

De La Cruz’s trial, which was supposed to begin on Aug. 7, is now rescheduled to Oct. 2, court records show. He remains free on a $200,000 bond.

lzazueta@themonitor.com