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April 26, 2011

ALLEGED “MIDDLEMAN” IN FORMER JUDGE LIMAS’ EXTORTION SCHEME INDICTED

(BROWNSVILLE, Texas) – Jose Manuel Longoria, 52, the alleged “middleman” involved in former Judge Abel Corral Limas’ use of his state judicial bench to exact bribes for favorable court rulings, has been indicted by a Brownsville grand jury, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today. The indictment charges Longoria with conspiracy to possess narcotics, conspiracy to Interfere with commerce under color of official right or extortion, two counts of extortion and one count of aiding and abetting honest services wire fraud.

Longoria, a resident alien from Mexico residing in San Benito, Texas, was arrested on March 31, 2011, by agents of the FBI, DEA and Brownsville Police Department as a result of the filing of a criminal complaint and issuance of an arrest warrant. According to allegations in the original criminal complaint, which was unsealed on April 1, 2011, Longoria was involved in a scheme with former 404th District Judge Abel Corral Limas to allow a state probationer to report by mail rather than in person in return for payment of money. The probationer had been convicted of aggravated assault in 2006 and was under court-ordered supervision. The complaint alleges the probationer went to Arkansas without authorization from the probation officer.  Longoria allegedly was wired $1,800 from Arkansas as part of the scheme to then pay Judge Limas to enter an order authorizing the probationer to report by mail, according to the complaint. 404th  state district court records indicate that on April 23, 2008, Limas contacted the state probation officer ordering the reporting by mail.

The first count of the indictment accuses Longoria of conspiring with others to possess with the intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine between October 2007 and April 2008. A conviction for this charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years imprisonment up to life and up to a $4 million fine. Counts two, three and four of the indictment accuse Longoria of conspiring to and interfering with commerce under color of official right or extortion arising from allegations that Longoria and person “F” obtained $10,000 in property that was not due either of them nor person “F’s” office from a person each believed to be engaged in criminal conduct, including narcotics trafficking. Person “F” is identified only as a county employee. A conviction on any of the three counts carries a maximum punishment of 20 years imprisonment and up to a $250,000 fine.

In count five, Longoria is accused of aiding and abetting Limas to devise a scheme to defraud and deprive the state of Texas of the right to the honest services of a state district judge, performed free from deceit, favoritism, bias, self-enrichment and self-dealing on April 24, 2008, arising from the wire transfer of $1800 from Arkansas. A conviction for this wire fraud charge is punishable by a sentence of up to 20 years and a $250,000 fine.

Longoria is expected to appear in federal court on May 4, 2011, for arraignment on the charges.

The charges against Longoria are the result of an ongoing investigation being conducted by local agents of the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administation and Brownsville Police Department.

A criminal indictment is an accusation of criminal conduct, it is not evidence.
Defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.

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