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Local Bail Bondsman Convicted of Paying Bribe to Former State District Judge Limas

Aug, 8, 2011

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – A local bail bondsman charged for his role in former State District Court Judge Abel Limas’ scheme to solicit and accept bribes in exchange for official action has been convicted, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.

Francisco “Pancho” Cisneros, 46, of Brownsville, Texas, a local bail bondsman, pleaded guilty today to aiding and abetting extortion. The charge against Cisneros arose from investigation by the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and the Brownsville Police Department into former state District Court Judge Abel Limas’ use of his position as the judge of that court to solicit and accept money from persons with cases pending in his court for favorable rulings or orders. Cisneros was charged by an indictment returned on June 21, 2011, with aiding and abetting Limas’ extortion by paying a bribe to Limas in exchange for official action pursuant to the Hobbs Act (Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1951 and 2).

At this morning’s hearing before United States District Judge Andrew S. Hanen, Cisneros admitted paying $2,000 to a middle man tobribe Limas in exchange for an order changing the terms of a previously set cash or surety bond to a personal recognizance bond for a defendant in a criminal drug case pending in Limas’ court. Limas has admitted receiving $700 to issue the order.    

Cisneros now faces a statutory maximum punishment 20 years imprisonment, a fine of up to $250,000 and a term of supervised release of up to three years for the conviction. Judge Hanen has set sentencing for Nov.14, 2011. Cisneros has been permitted to remain on bond pending sentencing. 

Assistant United States Attorneys Michael Wynne and Oscar Ponce are prosecuting this case.

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