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Former El Paso County Texas District Clerk and Lawyer, former County Judge, County Attorney and State Representative Guilty of Conspiracy and Public Corruption

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A former El Paso County Texas elected official and an El Paso attorney were convicted on April 20, 2011 of conspiracy as part of a years-old public corruption investigation.

After a 12-day trial, a federal jury returned guilty verdicts against former El Paso County District Clerk Gilbert Sanchez and lawyer Luther Jones, who is a former county judge, county attorney and state representative.

U.S. District Judge Frank Montalvo revoked bonds for both men and placed them in immediate custody, the El Paso Times reported.

Federal prosecutors said the men conspired to obtain a multimillion-dollar document imaging contract between the county and one of Jones’ clients. Prosecutors said Luther Jones offered Gilbert Sanchez bribes in the form of cash, travel expenses to Las Vegas and gratuities. In return, Sanchez directed another county employee to favor Jones’ client with the request for proposals.

“This verdict marks another milestone in the investigation and prosecution of individuals who have attempted to corrupt members of the El Paso County government,” U.S. Attorney John Murphy said in a statement.

During closing arguments, defense attorney Orlando Mondragon told jurors that elected officials shouldn’t be punished for accepting drinks, dinners and campaign contributions.

“If you criminalize this, the government will cease to run,” he said.

Sanchez and Jones could each be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. No sentencing date has been set.

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/tx/7530819.html

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