Federal Grand Jury Indicts Former Texas State Judge on Bribery, Extortion and Wire Fraud Charges
ALBUQUERQUE – A federal grand jury sitting in San Antonio, Texas, has indicted Angus Kelly McGinty, 50, a former Texas state district court judge in Bexar County, Texas, on bribery, extortion and wire fraud charges, announced Damon P. Martinez, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico, and Christopher Combs, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s San Antonio Division.
The 15-count indictment, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas late yesterday afternoon, charges McGinty with one count of conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery, one count of federal programs bribery, one count of extortion under color of official right, and 12 counts of honest services wire fraud. At the time of the events underlying the charges in the indictment, McGinty was a state district court judge in the criminal division of the 144th Judicial District Court in Bexar County, Texas. The indictment generally alleges that between Jan. 2013 and Sept. 2013, McGinty solicited and accepted bribes from an attorney who appeared before him in exchange for favorable rulings for the attorney’s clients. McGinty resigned from the bench on Feb. 14, 2014.
In announcing the indictment, U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez said, “The outcome of criminal cases should be determined by the evidence and the law, not by paid-for bias. When citizens cannot have faith in the very people who are sworn to uphold the law, confidence in our judicial system is shaken. The Justice Department is committed to restoring that faith by rooting out corruption wherever it may be found.”
“A fair and impartial criminal justice system is one of the cornerstones of our democracy,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs. “Judges, in particular, are expected to protect the public’s trust in the fairness of the judicial system. Investigations such as the one leading to today’s indictment are crucial to deter corrupt officials influenced by greed from breaking their oath to uphold the rule of law. This case should serve as a strong warning to those who might consider similar alleged behavior. No one is above the law, and everyone is accountable for their misdeeds.”
According to the indictment’s conspiracy count, from Jan. 2013 through Sept. 2013, McGinty allegedly solicited and accepted bribes from Alberto Acevedo, Jr., an attorney in San Antonio, in exchange for favorable judicial rulings that benefited Acevedo and his clients. The indictment alleges that Acevedo’s bribes to McGinty included cash, car repairs, arranging the sale of McGinty’s vehicle, and registering a vehicle purchased by McGinty. In exchange, McGinty allegedly provided the favorable judicial rulings requested by Acevedo, including lenient sentences and less restrictive conditions of release for Acevedo’s clients. McGinty allegedly received gifts, payments and other things of value totaling more than $6,655 from Acevedo during the course of the conspiracy.
Count 2 of the indictment alleges that McGinty corruptly solicited and accepted bribes in the form of car repairs and services to vehicles from Acevedo in exchange for using his official position to benefit Acevedo and his clients. Count 3 alleges that McGinty acting under color of official right in extorting and obtaining property to which he was not entitled from Acevedo. Counts 4 through 15 charge McGinty with engaging in a scheme to defraud the State of Texas and Bexar County and their citizens of their right to his honest services by soliciting and accepting bribes from Acevedo in exchange for using his official position to benefit Acevedo and his clients. Each of the 12 counts alleges a specific wire communication by which McGinty allegedly perpetuated the fraudulent scheme.
If convicted on the charges in the indictment, McGinty faces a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. The charges against McGinty are merely accusations and he is presumed innocent unless found guilty in a court of law.
Acevedo pled guilty on March 17, 2014, to a felony information charging him with bribery involving a program receiving federal funds. In entering his guilty plea, Acevedo admitted that he corruptly influenced a state court judge by giving him things of value. In his plea agreement, Acevedo admitted giving gifts, payments and other things of value totaling more than $6,655 to the state court judge in exchange for favorable judicial rulings that benefitted him and his clients. At sentencing, Acevedo faces a maximum statutory penalty of ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Acevedo is released on bond pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.
U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez praised the investigative work of the San Antonio Division of the FBI, which he noted is ongoing. The prosecution of this case in federal court in San Antonio, Texas, is being handled by Special Attorneys Mark A. Saltman and Brock E. Taylor of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Mexico. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas is recused.