News and Press Releases

Marchan Gets 42 months for Paying Bribe Money to Former Judge Limas

Dec. 6, 2012

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – Ray Roman Marchan, 55, has been sent to federal prison for his conviction on six public corruption related counts in the FBI’s public corruption investigation of former 404th District Court Judge Abel Corral Limas, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today.

Marchan was indicted June 22, 2011, following a three-year investigation of corruption by then sitting judge Limas, who has since entered guilty pleas to RICO public corruption-related violations. The jury found Marchan, a local attorney, guilty on June 18, 2012, of one count of violation of Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO), one count of RICO conspiracy, three counts of aiding and abetting extortion (under color of official right) and one count of aiding and abetting honest services mail fraud. The jury had convicted Marchan of another mail fraud count but the court subsequently set aside that conviction.

Today, U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen, who presided over the trial, handed Marchan a 42-month-term of federal imprisonment which will be followed by a three years of supervised release. At the hearing today, additional testimony was presented that Marchan also failed to pay monies on other clients’ cases. These included $134,000 in what he called a “loan” to himself of a client’s money - a “loan” that the client did not authorize. A former employee of Marchan also testified Marchan had forged her signature on those “loan” documents. Judge Hanen also heard testimony from another former client who testified that two years ago Marchan failed to pay a hospital bill of $14,000 which was to be paid from the settlement monies the client had received. That client testified Marchan offered him a “baby grand piano and marble table” two months ago in lieu of the $14,000. Further testimony revealed Marchan was given notice in 2001 not to engage in such practices. After an internal audit of his law firm revealed Marchan was making personal purchases on the law firm’s credit card in March and May 2006, Marchan was fired and the Brownsville office was closed.

In handing down the sentence, the court noted that Marchan’s conduct has negatively affected the public’s perception of lawyers and the courts. Prior to sentencing, Judge Hanen asked Marchan if he had anything to say, to which he responded by thanking the court for allowing him the right to have a trial.

Evidence at trial showed Marchan paid bribes or kickbacks to Limas in return for favorable judicial rulings and an appointment as ad litem attorney in two cases. Marchan was also convicted of using the United States Postal Service to carry out the bribe or kickback scheme.

At trial, Jurors heard testimony of Limas as well as an FBI special agent concerning the broader Limas investigation involving others already arrested and convicted of aiding and abetting Limas in the corruption as well as of others who also received judicial favors from Limas. To date, a total of eight defendants, including former attorneys Jim Solis and Joe Valle, former Cameron County Investigator Jaime Munivez, Limas’ middleman Manuel Longoria, Armando and Karina Pena and former bondsman Francisco Cisneros, have entered guilty pleas in relation to the Limas investigation. Limas himself will be sentenced April 3, 2013.

Previously released on bond, Marchan was was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

The charges in relation to this case are the result of an ongoing three-year investigation being conducted by the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and the Brownsville Police Department. Assistant United States Attorneys Michael Wynne and Oscar Ponce are prosecuting the case.