In early 2019, the U.S. Marshals briefed U.S. District Judge Randy Crane on what it initially appeared to be terrifying news.
People in Mexico were planning to assassinate the judge.
Thankfully, a cooperating defendant in a cocaine case named Ismael Lechuga, who was facing up to life in the Bureau of Prisons for drug trafficking, decided to warn the U.S. Marshals of the alleged plot in an effort to see his sentence reduced.
Court documents indicate that the marshals briefed Crane on two to three occasions.
Fortunately for Crane, FBI investigators on the case jumped into action on the alleged plot.
And they determined it was a total lie.
In the months leading up to Lechuga’s sentencing, the drug trafficker, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute narcotics and to money laundering, attempted to have Crane recuse himself from the sentencing, arguing the judge would not be impartial because of his knowledge of the assassination hoax.
Crane, however, did not recuse himself, telling Lechuga’s attorney that the man tried to manipulate the system in order to receive a lighter sentence, which is under no circumstances a valid reason for Crane to recuse himself, according to a transcript.
On May 15, 2019, Crane sentenced Lechuga to three decades in federal prison on the charges and the government dismissed three counts of conspiracy to distribute, seven counts of selling, distributing or dispensing narcotics and one count of money laundering.
Lechuga appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that he should be resentenced because Crane did not recuse himself in the case.
On Friday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Lechuga’s conviction, ruling Crane was right not to recuse himself and did not abuse his discretion.