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Press Release

Former USDA animal inspector sentenced for accepting bribes

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas

LAREDO, Texas – A 69-year-old Laredo man has been ordered to federal prison for accepting bribes from Mexican cattle brokers, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.

Roberto Adams pleaded guilty on April 25, 2022.

Today, U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo ordered he serve a total of 57 months in federal prison to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. The sentenced was enhanced because he accepted more than one bribe payment while in a position of public trust for a total amount of over $40,000. In handing down the sentence, the court noted Adams did not understand the gravity of the crime he committed and the significance of the harm he did or could have caused by allowing diseased cattle into the country. He was also ordered to immediately pay $40,000 in fines.

“It is critical that we do not allow corruption to infect positions of public trust, including inspectors at the port of entry,” said Hamdani. “They are supposed to ensure the safety and integrity of the agricultural products passing into the United States. Adams put that system at risk. We hope this sentence serves as deterrent to others thinking of violating their obligations.”

At the time of his plea, Adams admitted he accepted over $40,000 in bribe payments from Mexican cattle brokers while acting in his official position as a USDA employee. In return, he allowed cattle to enter the United States without proper quarantine or inspection.

Adams was a employed at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as a lead animal health technician for 10 years. In that role, he was responsible for inspecting and quarantining or excluding tick-infested or diseased cattle. He was only one of two technicians the USDA employed in Laredo and exercised high level decision-making authority.

The FBI and USDA - Office of the Inspector General conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Heather Winter is prosecuting the case.

Updated June 1, 2023

Public Corruption