Lorenzo Zazueta-Castro

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Lorenzo Zazueta-Castro covers immigration and federal courts for The Monitor. He can be reached at lzazueta@themonitor.com or (956) 683-4452.

Sentencing hearing for Houston woman accused of smuggling heroin reset

A Houston woman who was set to be sentenced last week will have to wait at least another month, records show.  Last week, U.S. District Judge Randy Crane granted a motion for continuance for the sentencing hearing for Denise Esquivel who has pleaded guilty to drug smuggling charges, court notes show.  The continuance, which now sets Esquivel’s sentencing for Jan. 28, 2020, was the latest granted by Crane in the case, as there was a previous reset in August, records show.   Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Feds accuse San Juan cop of assaulting cuffed man in 2015

Another San Juan police officer finds himself facing criminal charges, according to a Southern District of Texas U.S. Attorney’s office release.  According to the release, Juan Pablo Galindo is in federal custody accused of assaulting a man who was in his custody back in December 2015.  Galindo, now a sergeant, acting in his official capacity as an officer with San Juan Police at the time, allegedly violated the civil rights of an unidentified man on Dec. 4, 2015.  “Galindo allegedly physically assaulted the man while he was in custody. According to the charges, the victim had been handcuffed and under police control when Galindo hit him in the groin area with his knee,” the release states.  Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Sentencing set for head of Venezuelan crime group

The head of an international criminal organization is scheduled to be sentenced Monday, records show. Tirso Antonio Meleán-Castellano pleaded guilty last December to a federal firearm charge in connection with his March 2018 arrest in McAllen. During a re-arraignment hearing before U.S. District Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa on Dec. 10, 2018, Meleán-Castellano pleaded true to one of two counts of unlawful transport of firearms, records show. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Starr County woman with disability lacks heat, wheelchair access

Last month, like many months before, Hortencia Hernandez had to contend with flooding inside her modest single bedroom home. The Starr County resident, who is about to celebrate her 70th birthday next month, described how the one bathroom home, which sits downstream in the outskirts of her community, is susceptible to the water anytime it rains for more than a few hours. A quick glance inside the home and a visitor’s eyes are drawn to some out of place surroundings, as the home’s interior appears to be in dire need of repair. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Man who smuggled nearly 200 firearms into Mexico gets 27 months

A Mexican national who lied on federal firearms forms in order to sneak weapons into Mexico was handed a 27-month prison sentence, records show. On Monday, U.S. District Judge Randy Crane sentenced Jose Omar Garza to more than two years in prison for his role in a scheme to smuggle firearms into Mexico from the United States, according to a criminal complaint filed in June. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers notified agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in June of Garza’s attempt to enter the U.S. at the Falcon Dam port of entry, the complaint stated. This led to Garza’s arrest. Read the full story at themonitor.com

Trials set for December and February in car dealership case

The trial dates for five former car dealership employees accused of fraud are now set. Dates for the trial of the five suspects accused of defrauding banks and other financial institutions are set for December and February, while one defendant has pleaded guilty to fraud charges and is expected to be sentenced in late January, records show. Soundra Mae Lopez, who was indicted in early October, pleaded not guilty to one bank fraud charge Oct. 28. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

7 indicted on charges of conspiracy to defraud US

An Edinburg man and six others are accused of stealing more than $500,000 in federal funds over the course of 10 years, court records show. On Monday, Jose Luis Gonzalez pleaded not guilty to four counts of money laundering. The 37-year-old man allegedly conspired with others to steal money from the government by submitting fraudulent unemployment insurance claims at the request of his co-conspirators with the Texas Workforce Commission. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Jail employees charged with taking bribes 

A group of employees at a GEO Group-run correctional facility face federal charges for bribery and sexual abuse, records show. A detention hearing is set for Wednesday afternoon for former employees of the East Hidalgo Detention Center in La Villa who have been accused of taking bribes in order to smuggle contraband into the facility and an accusation of sexual abuse from one former employee. Former correctional officers, Erasmo Edwardo Loya, 54, of Pharr, Jayson Gino Catalan, 36, of Mercedes, Jhaziel Enrique Loredo, 32, of Weslaco; along with Brenda Fuentes, a former cook supervisor, and Veronica Ortega, a former certified medical assistant at the jail, each face federal charges of bribery, while Fuentes faces one count of sexual abuse of a ward, documents show.  Read the full story at themonitor.com

Ex-doctor who admitted to bribes in healthcare fraud scheme sentenced

An ex-doctor accused of taking bribes in exchange for patient referrals was sentenced to federal prison Thursday, records show. U.S. District Judge Randy Crane sentenced Eduardo Carrillo to a 24-month sentence in connection with charges he solicited, along with his assistant, 52-year-old Martha Uribe Medrano, and obtained kickbacks in exchange for patient referrals. Carrillo, of McAllen, pleaded guilty Nov. 20, 2015, to one count of fraud with identification documents, and two counts of healthcare fraud, and was ordered to pay nearly $26,000 in restitution as part of his punishment. Read the full story at themonitor.com.

Ex-doctor who admitted to bribes in healthcare fraud scheme sentenced

An ex-doctor accused of taking bribes in exchange for patient referrals was sentenced to federal prison Thursday, records show. U.S. District Judge Randy Crane sentenced Eduardo Carrillo to a 24-month sentence in connection with charges he solicited, along with his assistant, 52-year-old Martha Uribe Medrano, and obtain kickbacks in exchange for patient referrals. Carrillo, of McAllen, pleaded guilty Nov. 20, 2015, to one count of fraud with identification documents, and two counts of healthcare fraud, and was ordered to pay nearly $26,000 in restitution as part of his punishment. Read the full story at themonitor.com.