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Former El Paso Criminal Judge Manuel Barraza Found Guilty by Jury – Going to Jail

Late last week, a federal jury came back with their verdict in the case of the United States v. Manny Barraza over in El Paso.  The verdict? 

Former Criminal District Court Judge Manuel Joseph Barraza was guilty of two (2) counts of wire fraud and the deprivation of honest services and one (1) count of making false statements. They split the baby, somewhat, acquitting the former Texas Judge of one count of mail fraud.

What happens now? There Goes the Judge … Directly to Jail, Sentencing in April 2010.

Today, Manuel Barraza is a free man.  He’s out on bond.

However, that’s gonna change on April 28, 2010, when he returns to federal court for his sentencing hearing before U.S. District Judge Frank Montalvo.  We already know that the federal judge will enter a judgment of criminal forfeiture that day, since Barraza’s already negotiated a deal to return the $ 5100 he got as a bribe.  However, we don’t know how much time behind bars the former judge will have to spend, or how much money he’s gonna have to pay in fines.  Except in both instances, it’s gonna be a lot. 

At sentencing, former Judge Barraza faces a possible sentence of 23 years in prison and $750,000 in fines:

  • 20 years in prison on the wire fraud
  • 3 years in prison on the count of making false statements
  • $250,000 fine on each of the fraud counts, or $500,000 maximum fine
  • $250,000 fine on the false statements charge.

Don’t Remember the Backstory on Judge Manuel Barraza’s Fall from Grace?

Formerly an El Paso criminal district court judge, Manny Barraza was caught taking bribes from criminal defendants in exchange for his help in felony cases coming before him.  He’d take either cash or sexual favors from individuals appearing before him — and he was smooth enough to even get cases transfered to his court if the price was right. 

How did he get caught?  You guessed it.  An undercover (pardon the pun) FBI Agent tape-recorded the Judge during one of his bribe negotiations.

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