APRIL 03, 2009
A recently elected Texas criminal court judge has been arrested and federally charged with exchanging sex and money for favorable judgments in felony cases.
Elected in November to El Paso’s District Court, Judge Manuel Barraza solicited cash bribes and sexual favors from criminal defendants appearing before him, according to federal prosecutors. A grand jury indicted Judge Barraza on four counts including fraud, deprivation of honest services and lying to federal agents.
Hours after being charged, the State Commission on Judicial Conduct suspended the Texas judge without pay. That means he will go without his $140,000 annual salary while he fights the shameful charges. After posting $10,000 bond this week, a seemingly confident Barraza emphasized his right to presumed innocence.
Federal authorities say Barraza solicited and accepted bribes and sex from various female defendants, including an unidentified woman charged with several felonies. The judge got busted by an undercover FBI agent who pretended her friend had been charged with a felony. Barraza promised to intervene, according to authorities, and said he would transfer the case to his court if the woman had sex with him.
Before becoming a judge, Barraza was a high-profile attorney for three decades. He has defended well known criminals, including Richard Ramirez (the night stalker) who sits on California’s Death Row for committing 13 murders and a man awaiting trial for killing a toddler. In 1983 Barraza was arrested for bribing a deputy probation officer.
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