BROWNSVILLE–The embattled Cameron County District Attorney remains in office despite calls for him to resign and a court petition that was filed to remove him from office.
A federal grand jury indicted Armando Villalobos on 12 counts of bribery, racketeering and conspiracy from October 2006 until May 2012. They also indicted his former law partner Eddie Lucio. Lucio isn’t related to the state legislators.
The indictment alleges Villalobos, a Democrat, received more than $100,000 in bribes and kickbacks to give favorable treatment to defendants, paying off former State District Judge Abel Limas for a court ruling and was paid money for referring a civil case involving to Lucio involving to the family Hermilia Hernandez, who was murdered by Amit Livinston.
Villalobos held a press conference shortly before the indictment on May 7th. He claimed he didn’t do anything wrong, plan to stay in office as DA and would stay in the Democratic Congressional race in the 34th District.
“I am innocent and I am prepared to fight the anticipated charges with full vigor,” said Villalobos. “I will not step down as county or district attorney and I will finish my term that expires at the end of the year.”
That decison has upset some people in Cameron County.
County Judge Carlos Cascos, who is a Republican, has called for him to step down from his office. He stated he has too much on his hands to be the District Attorney, running for Congress and preparing for his defense.
An opponent in his congressional race and former Willacy County DA, Juan Angel Guerra, filed a petition on behalf a Harlingen resident to remove Villalobos from office.
Judge Manuel Banales of Corpus Christi was assigned the case and held a hearing Friday afternoon. Villalobos didn’t show up for the hearing, but his attorney were in the courtroom.
They claim Judge Banales didn’t have jurisdiction to rule on the case. They also cited some technicalities in trying to get the petition removed.
Guerra stated they want him removed from his position of district attorney due to the federal case filed against him.
Banales took the matter under advisement and will issue a ruling on May 30th. He’ll decide if petition is legitimate enough to issue a citation compelling Villalobos to appear.
Texas law allows for the immediate removal of a county official convicted of a felony or misdemeanor.
Villalobos was supposed to start his criminal trial at the end of June. A federal judge agreed this week to postpone the trial until the end of August.