Another state district court judge has been tied, in court documents, to the federal case against former Cameron County District Attorney Armando R. Villalobos.
State 444th District Judge David Sanchez is referred to in Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael J. Wynne's notice of the government's intention to offer additional evidence, including testimony and physical evidence, to show motive, opportunity and intent by Villalobos, according to public records.
Sanchez has not been charged, and he did not respond to requests for comment.
According to court records, a Villalobos employee "paid Sanchez $1,000.00 directly," so Sanchez, as special prosecutor, would not contest expunging the state criminal record against the employee.
Sanchez's name surfaced in connection with Villalobos' former employee and one-time Brownsville City Commission candidate 39-year-old Carlos Justino "Justin" Ramos, who now is in a federal prison through February 2016 on a drug-trafficking charge.
Villalobos is charged with a total of 12 counts: racketeering, conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, three counts of honest services fraud and seven counts of extortion.
Villalobos' trial is scheduled to begin with jury selection on May 1, with the trial itself on May 13.
Villalobos' attorney Joel Androphy said Monday: "When the government starts adding extraneous matters, it's generally because they are desperate in their case," adding that this shows lack of confidence, otherwise, "they wouldn't try to invent additional allegations."
Wynne and other federal prosecutors in the case do not comment on pending cases.
The federal case against Villalobos, and his former law partner Eduardo "Eddie" Lucio arises from the government's inquiry into ex-404th state District Judge Abel C. Limas, who has pleaded guilty to racketeering, has been cooperating with the government, and awaits sentencing.
Villalobos served as district attorney from 2005 through 2012.
Carlos Justino Ramos case
According to federal prosecutors, Villalobos hired Ramos, who he had known in political circles to work in the DA's office in the spring if 2005, and had DA investigator Joe Lopez, who now is a city commissioner in Rio Hondo, issue Ramos an investigator's badge.
Ramos, according to public records, was prevented from carrying a firearm as a result of a criminal record.
Federal prosecutors say Ramos made two cash payments to Villalobos totaling $3,000 to $4,000 to have cases against him resolved or pleaded to lesser charges. One case was dismissed, and Ramos received probation on the other case.
Prosecutors further allege that Villalobos prepared the necessary documents, or had it prepared, to expunge Ramos' conviction, and arranged "directly through the clerk's office to have the expungement petition land in Abel Limas' court," according to court records.
Villalobos also appointed Sanchez, a practicing attorney at the time, as a special prosecutor to handle the case.
"Ramos met with Limas in chambers, and Limas agreed to sign off on the expungement as long as state officials did not 'fight it,'" prosecutors state.
"Ramos paid Sanchez $1,000 directly so Sanchez would not contest the expungement as special prosecutor," federal prosecutors allege, adding that Ramos paid Villalobos $3,000 to facilitate the process for the expungement.
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