MCALLEN, Texas–A federal judge sentenced a Texas sheriff to five years in prison for taking money from a South Texas drug lord linked to Mexican cartels.
On Thursday morning, U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez delivered harsh words to former Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño during his sentencing hearing. The judge added that she believes the sheriff accepted a lot more money than what he plead guilty to.
“You of all people should have known better,” Alvarez told Treviño, adding that the top law enforcement official in the area should be above reproach. “It is because you were the sheriff that this donation was given with the likely expectation of a favor later on. Court officials had recommended a lesser sentence but Alvarez said the former sheriff’s position and the severity of the crime merited a harsher punishment.
Trevino had previously pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering in April admitting that from a period of time beginning June 1, 2011, to December 2012, “Treviño conspired to conduct financial transactions involving the proceeds of illegal activity”, court records obtained by Breitbart Texas show.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney James Sturgis, Weslaco-based drug trafficker Tomas “El Gallo” Gonzalez gave money to former sheriff’s commander Jose Padilla, who then in turn gave the money to Treviño. The sheriff then tried to disguise some of the money as campaign donations.
While Trevino admitted to the amount of the money being between $20,000 and $25,000, Alvarez said during the hearing that Gonzalez claimed to have given hundreds of thousands to Treviño. “A claim you deny,” Alvarez told the former sheriff.
Follow Ildefonso Ortiz on Twitter @ildefonsoortiz.