In Brownsville last night, United States District Judge Andrew Hanen sentenced 51–year-old Austin attorney Marc Garrett Rosenthal to 20 years in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay $13,288,984.00 restitution for his role in a South Texas bribery scheme announced United States Attorney Robert Pitman, Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Armando Fernandez, San Antonio Division, Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Javier Pena, Houston Field Division, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Acting Special Agent In Charge Bernard Butler and Brownsville Police Chief Orlando Rodriguez.
In February, jurors convicted Rosenthal of conspiring to bribe a State District Judge, bribe witnesses in both state and federal court cases, file fraudulent personal injury cases in both state and federal courts and deprive the citizens of Cameron County, Texas, of the right to honest services of an elected official.
“Marc Rosenthal and the public officials with whom he conspired not only betrayed their professional ethical obligations but actively sought to corrupt the very legal processes that were designed to do justice,” stated United States Attorney Robert Pitman. “Sadly, innumerable honorable acts performed by honest lawyers and public officials are undone in the eyes of the public when the Marc Rosenthals of our profession violate the public trust for personal gain.”
Evidence presented at trial revealed that from November 2005 until December 2009, Rosenthal and others, including 404th Judicial District Court Judge Abel Corral Limas and former state legislator and attorney Jose Santiago “Jim” Solis, participated in a scheme in which Rosenthal directly, or facilitated by Solis, paid money and other considerations to Limas which resulted in favorable court rulings for Rosenthal & Watson clients.
The evidence also revealed that Rosenthal directed others to pay certain individuals, including funeral home directors and a public employee, for the referral of plaintiff’s personal injury cases; make arrangements to manipulate the random case assignment system at the Cameron County District Clerk’s Office so that cases were filed in Courts preferred by Rosenthal & Watson; and, pay witnesses to provide false testimony and statements.
Rosenthal was convicted of one count of conspiracy to violate the Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO) statute; five counts of mail fraud; three counts of tampering with witnesses or proceedings; one count of extortion; and, three counts of mail fraud, aiding and abetting and deprivation of honest services. At sentencing, Judge Hanen set aside two of the counts of conviction, both mail fraud counts.
This investigation was conducted by the FBI, DEA, IRS-Criminal Investigation and the Brownsville Police Department. Former Southern District of Texas Assistant United States Attorney Michael Wynne and Southern District of Texas Assistant United States Attorney Oscar Ponce prosecuted this case on behalf of the Government.