The following post was shared with the CopBlock Network by a reader who goes by the pseudonym “The Poor & Unknown,” via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page. It details the case of a Texas District Court judge who basically put his services within the courtroom up for sale, accepting bribes from lawyers in civil rights lawsuits. In exchange for ruling in their favor during pretrial motions (thus avoiding having to present the case to a jury), Judge Abel Limas was payed kickbacks from portions of the damages awarded.
In order to facilitate this, some attorneys actually placed Judge Limas on the payroll of their firm and paid him a counsel fee. In the most prominent case mentioned below, he pocketed $250,000 from an award in a case involving a helicopter crash. Eventually, Limas was caught by the FBI, who recorded him talking about the deals he was making with those attorneys on the phone. (One of those phone calls is embedded below.)
Once he realized that they had enough evidence to convict him, Judge Limas made a deal to act as an informant. As a result of that ten other corrupt officials were also convicted. This included Cameron County District Attorney Armando Villalobos, who accepted an $80,000 bribe to release a murder suspect without bail. That murder suspect subsequently skipped bail and is now a fugitive.
The details of that FBI deal showed that Judge Limas still has a gift for working out a deal to his benefit. Once Limas was finally sentenced for racketeering in 2013, he was allowed to serve his time at the Pensacola Federal Prison Camp in Florida. That prison has been described as one of “America’s cushiest” prisons. It’s anything but hard time as described by Valley Central.com:
Forbes Magazine once ranked the prison camp as No. 2 out of “America’s 10 Cushiest Prisons.”
According to a the magazine, inmates get to visit with their families in a tree-filled park on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Forbes reported that because the prison camp is located on an outlying base of the Pensacola Naval Air Station allowing inmates enjoy better jobs and recreational activities than those at other federal prisons.
The magazine reported that one high-profile white collar crime inmate got an air-conditioned office job on the base and got to see movies at a theater for servicemen.
Ironically, in that recorded phone call embedded below judge Limas joked about “leaving the money to you and going to jail for five years.” His sentence for the racketeering conviction ended up being six years.
Abel Limas, 59, a lifelong resident of Brownsville, Texas, served as a police officer and practiced law before becoming a state judge in Cameron County in 2001. He served eight years on the bench, during which time he turned his courtroom into a criminal enterprise to line his own pockets.
“The depth of the corruption was shocking,” said Mark Gripka, a special agent in our San Antonio Division who was part of the team that investigated the case. “What was more shocking was how cheaply Judge Limas sold his courtroom—$300 here, $500 there—in return for a favorable ruling.”
There was plenty of big money involved as well. Limas received more than $250,000 in bribes and kickbacks while he was on the bench. He took money from attorneys with civil cases pending in his court in return for favorable pre-trial rulings, most notably in a case involving a Texas helicopter crash that was later settled for $14 million. Referring to an $8,000 payment Limas received in that case, our investigators listened on the telephone as he described the cash to an accomplice as eight golf balls. “Their code language didn’t fool anybody,” Gripka said.
Evidence also showed that Limas made a deal with the attorneys in the helicopter crash case to become an “of counsel” attorney with the firm. He was promised an advance of $100,000 and 10 percent of the settlement—all while the case was still pending in his court.
Over a 14-month period beginning in November 2007, investigators used court-authorized wiretaps to listen to the judge’s phone calls. “That’s when we really learned the scope of what he was doing,” Gripka explained. The judge’s nearly $100,000 annual salary was not enough to support his lifestyle, which included regular gambling trips to Las Vegas.
In 2010, when Limas was faced with the overwhelming evidence against him, he began to cooperate in a wider public corruption investigation—and our agents learned that the Cameron County district attorney at the time, Armando Villalobos, was also corrupt. The investigation showed, among other criminal activities, that Villalobos accepted $80,000 in cash in exchange for taking actions that allowed a convicted murderer to be released for 60 days without bond prior to reporting to prison. The murderer failed to report to prison and remains a fugitive.
Limas pled guilty to racketeering in 2011. By that time, he had helped authorities uncover wide-ranging corruption in the Cameron County judicial system. To date, 10 other defendants have been convicted by a jury or pled guilty as part of the FBI’s six-year investigation, including a former Texas state representative, three attorneys, a former investigator for the district attorney’s office, and Villalobos, who is scheduled to be sentenced next month on racketeering, extortion, and bribery charges.
“During the course of this investigation, FBI interviewed over 800 people, including many local attorneys in Cameron County,” Gripka said. The scumbags are all in it together the judges, cops, attorneys the whole lot of these devil’s.
– The Poor and Unknown
Abel Limas describes the bribery plot to an accomplice in a phone call that was recorded by the FBI via a wiretap. A transcript is also available here. Hear the judge for yourself explain how he steals money. He was caught in a recording red handed the RAT SNAKE.