Criminal Justice News

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Judge Limas Associate Gets 10 Years in Bribery Scheme

BROWNSVILLE, TX—Jose Manuel “Meme” Longoria, 52, has been sentenced for his role in the FBI’s public corruption investigation of former 404th District Court Judge Abel Corral Limas, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. Longoria, a resident alien from Mexico residing in San Benito, Texas, previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to interfere with commerce under color of official right (extortion), two counts of aiding and abetting extortion, and one count of aiding and abetting honest services wire fraud by former state Judge Abel Corral Limas.

Today, U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen handed Longoria a 120-month sentence, which will be followed by a three-year term of supervised release. Longoria will remain in federal custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

At the time of his plea November 21, 2011, Longoria admitted to his role in a conspiracy involving the creation of a fraudulent drug money seizure document prepared by former Cameron County District Attorney investigator Jaime Munivez in November 2007; providing information on a pending murder case in return for providing a bicycle to Munivez; and the attempted recovery of drug proceeds from a truck near Rosenberg, Texas, both in early 2008. The recitation of evidence to the court indicated that as part of the public corruption investigation on Judge Limas, agents learned Longoria was involved in other criminal activity including the creation of fraudulent documents.

In the first drug-related incident which was charged as part of the conspiracy by Longoria, agents conducted an undercover operation where ultimately Munivez met with Longoria and provided a document, titled, “Article 59.03 Statement of Seized Property,” indicating $200,000 was seized on “11/20/07” by an investigator with the District Attorney’s Office. The document was provided in return for payment of money.

In a second drug-related incident, Longoria assisted a drug trafficking organization in early 2008 in an attempt to recover a Georgia truck containing drug proceeds that was reported to be missing on the outskirts of the Houston area. Longoria enlisted the help of Munivez and another person to locate the truck with the possibility of receiving up to $90,000 for recovering it. Ultimately, the truck was found by the Rosenberg Police Department and a total $289,290 in drug proceeds were seized.

In a third incident, evidence proved Longoria and Munivez traveled to Matamoros, Mexico, where Munivez, at Longoria’s urging, provided information to a defendant who had a pending murder case in Cameron County, Texas. Ultimately, Munivez received a bicycle valued at $274 with Longoria’s assistance.

Longoria also admitted to his role in arranging a $1,500 payment to Limas in April 2008. Evidence showed Longoria, acting as middleman for Armando and Karina Pena, arranged for Limas to issue a court order allowing Armando Pena to report to the state probation by mail rather than in person. Pena, who had left Texas without authorization to reside in Arkansas, was subject to arrest and revocation of his deferred adjudication probationary term for violating a condition of his eight-year probationary term imposed for aggravated robbery in March 2006. Karina Pena, Armando’s wife, contacted Longoria on April 22, 2008, seeking his assistance to arrange for her husband to be permitted to report by mail from Arkansas. Two days later, according to court documents, Karina Pena was told Limas wanted $1,500; Longoria sought $300 for himself for arranging the deal. On April 24, 2008, Armando Pena finalized the arrangements with Longoria and wire transferred $1,800 to Harlingen, Texas. FBI agents later reviewed the Armando Pena state court case file and located a progress report written by Pena’s probation officer indicating, “On April 23, 2008, the Honorable Court (Limas) contacted our office in reference to allowing the defendant to report by mail.” On May 13, 2008, Judge Limas signed an order allowing Pena to report by mail.

Munivez and Armando and Karina Pena have previously entered guilty pleas to related charges on the extortion and wire fraud violation and have been sentenced. To date, a total of eight defendants have entered guilty pleas as a result of the three-year public corruption investigation conducted by local agents of the FBI with the assistance of the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Brownsville Police Department. Attorney Ray Roman Marchan was found guilty yesterday after a two-week jury trial of public corruption-related charges involving his association with Limas.

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

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