BROWNSVILLE, Texas — A former Texas prosecutor and one-time candidate for Congress was convicted Friday of accepting bribes in exchange for court favors, including an $80,000 payment in a scheme that allowed a convicted murderer to escape.
Jurors convicted former Cameron County District Attorney Armando Villalobos on racketeering, bribery and extortion charges. They acquitted him on two extortion charges.
Villalobos is the highest-profile target to stand trial in an FBI investigation into legal corruption in Cameron County. The former prosecutor was accused of taking more than $100,000 in bribes from attorneys.
Villalobos denied any wrongdoing and testified during his trial that he did not request money from lawyers in exchange for appointments with him.
Among the allegations were that Villalobos participated in a scheme involving Amit Livingston, who was convicted of killing his girlfriend, Hermila Hernandez, in 2007. Prosecutors alleged former state District Judge Abel Lima agreed to work with Villalobos and Villalobos’ former law partner, Eddie Lucio, in criminal and civil cases involving Livingston. The trio’s target was the $500,000 bail put up for Livingston’s release before trial.