The newly sworn in District Attorney (DA) for Hidalgo County said he will keep his pledge for a public corruption task force. Breitbart Texas has reported extensively about corruption in the South Texas border county. The issue came to a head earlier last year when Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Trevino resigned, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years in prison for money laundering.
Former District Court Judge Ricardo Rodriguez is the first new District Attorney for Hidalgo County since 1983, according to a report in the Houston Chronicle. Rodriguez said he would make holding elected officials to higher standards one of his top priorities when he was sworn in on January 1st. He was sworn in by U.S. Representative Juaquin Castro (D-TX).
Rodriguez kept most of the 200 employee staff, including division chiefs, who had been working for the previous DA, Rene Guerra, according to an article by Jacob Fischler in The Monitor. He did, however, hire two new chiefs. Former U.S. Attorney Juan Villescas will become 1st Assistant under Rodriguez. Former McAllen Police Department Captain Jose Delgado will become chief of the Hidalgo County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force.
“One of my top priorities is to strengthen the public integrity efforts to curb corruption, and to hold elected officials to the highest standard,” Rodriguez said to a cheering crowd.
During the Primary Election campaign, Rodriguez had been highly critical of his predecessor. He claimed Guerra had engaged in selective prosecution in Hidalgo County during a forum held in January, 2014. He also claimed Guerra was too soft on investigating his allies like then Sheriff Trevino.
“I, as a prosecutor, would have taken more of an aggressive approach with the situation at hand,” Rodriguez stated while answering a question about former Sheriff’s Office Cmdr. Jose Padilla, who was arrested by federal authorities on Christmas Eve, 2013. Guerra responded that Rodriguez had exaggerated about the extent of the corruption in the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office.
Almost making Rodriguez’ point for him, Guerra said, “The sheriff and I have been friends for many years, and it’s unfortunate that people want to convict him without a trial and without seeing the evidence.”
Just a few months later, Sheriff Trevino would resign in disgrace and be convicted and sentenced to prison for corruption.
Rodriquez won in the hotly contested Democrat Primary and went on to win in the November General Election.
Bob Price is a senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas and a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.