Monday, May 13, 2013

 
ARMANDO VILLALOBOS TRIAL
TUESDAY MORNING SESSION

The session should start at about 8:30 with the continued cross examination of Abel Limas. DOJ lawyer will be allowed redirect. The tapes are the most telling evidence. Trey Martinez showed he was willing to play dirty. Peter Zavaletta who wants everyone to believe he is the hero in this case is recorded helping run cover for Limas.

Neither of these two are on trial and their testimony really matters very little so I am willing to comment on them. The tapes were more about what Limas knew and when, than what Trey Martinez or Peter Zavaletta knew or did not know.

It is my intent to highlight in red important testimony which my readers can browse without having to read everything. Sometimes it can take the attorney 15 minutes just to set up the foundation to get to the real question. I will highlight when they get to the meaty question along with the answers. This will make browsing easier for those who just want the gist, while still providing those readers who want a play by play the play by play.

CAMERON COUNTY OWES A
 BIG THANK YOU TO JUDGE HANEN

He did not have to allow for this. His staff is being very helpful with everyone covering the trial. We are seated up front, provided electricity for our electronics - now if I could just get a Ruben from Jason's the court will be perfect. I also have to say, I have been in many a federal court. There is nothing worse than a tight judge. Judge Hanen seems to have found the perfect balance to being assertive with the lawyers while allowing them to do their job. I have seen some federal judges who make the attorneys' life a living hell during trial.

IN THE COURT HOUSE AND SYSTEM WORKING

Abel Limas will take the stand about 8:30, depending on whether Judge Hanen has business with the attorneys first.

Judge Hanen:  He read the Amit Livingston plea and no one objected to the release  of Amit Livingston.  Judge Hanen is saying if either side tries to say otherwise Judge Hanen will intervene and indicate it is a misrepresention.  Mattiling will testify, his testimony will get in but Judge Hanen will then handle it.  He will allow Mr. Mattingly testify that there was an objection off the record he will allow for that.  But he will not allow for anyone to say the objection was in the plea agreement.

The jury is about to enter.

ABEL LIMAS IS NOW ON THE STAND FOR CONTINUED CROSS EXAMINATION

Androphy:  Is going over Limas testimony concerning the $1,000 paid to him by Eddie Lucio.  Limas once again he asserts he never saw the judicial commission findings.  He is also this past week is the first time he has seen the Livingston plea.  Androphy is reviewing what the DOJ went over with Limas during the past week.

Limas agrees he was given a preparation for trial.  The agents initial notes indicate Limas denied receiving money from Lucio, but Limas denies having said that and that about a year ago he corrected the mistake.

Judge Hanen is explaining a 302 form.  Witness statements are written down by the agent not the witness.  This are the documents Limas would correct - to summaries as made by the agents, not Limas.

DOJ Wynne wants to voir dire Limas (it means allowing opposing counsel to ask a few questions to get clarification before Androphy can continue)

Androphy is trying to get Limas to estimate how many hours he has spent with agents - total since day one discussing the cases - Limas impossible to know

Limas admits agents refreshed his memory by showing him documents.  Limas admits agents would correct him with documents if his statements were incorrect.   Sometimes agents corrected Limas even without documents. 

Limas signed a plea packet memo as part of his plea.  Nothing in the plea packet memo references the Livingston case.  Judge Hanen admonished both attorneys to srop side bar in their objections.

Limas admits he never plead guilty to anything related to Livingston in his plea packet.  Same goes for the Atkinson case.  What is happening is Androphy is trying to impeach Limas' credibility and the extent of the deal with the DOJ.

LIVINGSTON BOND ISSUE

Limas verifies that Amit Livingston's father put up the $500,000 bond.  Limas agrees that the victims would not have access to the bond money.  Once the case was done, the money should have gone back to the father.

Limas agrees Livingston's father had to agree to release the bond money to the victim's family

AD LITEM APPOINTMENTS

These went to Oscar De la Fuente and Valle - Limas would get $3-5,000 for each.  Limas agrees he told the government de la Fuente loaned him $5,000 and never paid him back.  

Meme Longoria, assistant to de la Fuente - gave Limas many  small amounts up to maybe about $1,100.

Androphy is going through agent notes listing the many payments Limas received from de la Fuente and Valle as kick-backs for the ad litem appointments.  (reminder these are appointments to represent child in invalids because their guardian may have an actual conflict of interest)

Lims is testifying that the lawyers and insurance companies decided on the amount of  the ad litem fees and not him.  His role was to simply to approve the fees as agreed to by the insurance companies and lawyers.


LIVINGSTON CONVICTION

Lists Mattingly as counsel for the state and Gladden for the defense.  The document includes the plea deal.  The court's administrator prepared the document.  The order says Livingston is to be taken into custody by the sheriff's department - it is not the job of the DA's office. 

ARREST OF LIVINGSTON'S FATHER

Limas yesterday testified that he objected to the arrest of Livingston's father and felt Villalobos was being too aggressive.  The arrest warrant clearly has Limas signature on it.  It is actually an affidavit in support of a warrant as prepared by and sworn to by Joe Lopez.

Limas says he obviously signed the document, but claims he does not remember having seen the document. 

Within days of Livingston not reporting, Limas agrees Villalobos sought arrest warrants for Livingston and his father.

ATKINSON CASE

The docket shows several failures to appear,  Limas claims the court had failed to notify Atkinson to appear and that was the problem.

Notes show Atkinson got pretrial diversion because he agreed to work with investigators - Atkinson was a client of Limas after he left the bench.

ADA Noe Alanez filed with the court that Vicente Adkinson had a prior offence.  Androphy has shown other documents that this was a mistake on the part of the DA's office. 

My comment - the issue is at the time the pretrial diversion was agreed to did the DA believe the defendant had a prior - the DA was the one who claimed there was a previous conviction.  Androphy is trying to claim Limas has no document that Atkinson received the actual pretrial diversion.  Limas is assuming the agreement was carried out.  Court notes indicate that Atkinson never signed the contract.  But the court records show the case was abated, which could have only happened if there was a pretrial division agreement.  Androphy claims there are no documents to support this other than the abatement order.

Armando Villoaobos wrote notes that Atkinson would be an informant and this justified pretrial diversion.  Limas states Villalobos wrote this but that his client never agreed to be an informant.

Androphy is using the term "fled" in terms of Atkinson, but nothing in the court record indicates he fled.    Androphy is challenging Limas on the payment of $500 to Villalobos based on the fact Atkinson fled.  Limas agrees he and Villalobos are the only witnesses to the exchange. 

Androphy is going over the Pretrial Diversion Agreement

Mattingly approved the Pretrial for Atkinson -

Notes indicate Atkinson never signed the agreement and never paid $500

My notes:  It is meaningless if Atkinson failed to meet the terms of the PTD program - Limas client got the deal.  To the extent an agreement existed between Villalobos and Limas it was complete - I am not saying an agreement existed - I am just saying Atkinson's failure to complete the PTD program is meaningless to any alleged agreement between Villalobos and Limas - again alleged - I cannot stress that enough.

Ruellas case

Peter Gilman wanted the defendant to be an informant.  Limas refused and then went to Villalobos.  Limas claims to never have seen the statement Ruellas signed with law enforcement.  Limas claims to never have asked for documents signed by his client.

A Frank L. Garcia, principal of Raymondville highschool, sent a letter to the DA saying Ruellas was a good leader, a helper and self reliant.  He says Ruellas knows right from wrong. 

Androphy is showing the PTD was appropirate in this case so there would have been no need for a special deal with Villalobos.

Androphy is going through a series of letters basically praising Armando Ruellas as a good kid.  Remember Ruellas was Limas' client. 

Armando Ruellas eventually completed the PTD program and the charges were dismissed.

Morning Break

We are back - more tapes

Michael Collin and Limas

Collin was Limas' lawyer before the Commission on Judicial Conduct.  Limas does not remember filing a complaint against Elia Cornejo-Lopez.  Limas told Mr. Collin he does not use his office for personal gain.  Limas agrees he lied.

Leslie Guerra, had Oscar de la Fuente represent Clayborn - Guerra was his sister and Limas met with her.  Limas told de la Fuente that he had sex with a Clayborn family member in exchange for a special favor

THE CASE OF CRYSTAL URINA (SPELLING)

Limas as a judge wanted the DA to give her pretrial diversion even though not allowed.  The DA rejected it.  Limas then wanted to give her deferred adjudication.  The DA's office objected.  It turns out that she was not entitled to deferred.  Limas refused to give her 30 days in jail as mandatory.  the court of appeals issued a mandamus against Limas to force the 30 days jail time.

Androphy is showing Limas and Villalobos did not always get along and that Villalobos did not just go along.

All of Limas loans are at IBC bank - Crystal's mother is a secretary at the bank

ANOTHER CASE

I did not hear the name - same issue - Armando Villalobos refused to help Limas' client with deferred adjudication.

A SEXUAL ASSAULT CASE

Valle was the attorney - Limas the judge.  Limas before leaving the bench terminated Valero's probation.  After Limas left as a judge, DA's office filed with the new judge to reinstate the probation.

Joel ??? another Valle case - found guilty of rape.  Limas released the defendant and then failed to come back. (this is to tie a pattern to the Livingston case)

Adrean and Jesus De Leon cases

Aggravated sexual assault case.  Androphy claims D's office argued over this case with Limas.  Limas said over time he only had conflicts with the DA's office only 4-5 times. 

Presentence Reports

Limas agrees a presentence report not always needed - especially if sending someone to prison - this goes back to

REDIRECT BY DOJ WYNNE

Limas admits conversations with Villalobos about how he was handling cases while a judge.  A meaningless answer.

Intoxication assault case - Limas discussed the case with Villalobos about not ruining this 17 year old girls life.  Limas could not get what he wanted because MADD objected.  Limas was representing the young lady. 

The redirect is very all over the place - very hard to follow.

Limas admits to telling the government that Limas and other attorneys were getting deals from Villalobos. 

Back to conversation when Limas said he got $10,000 from Livingston's father.  Apparently there was a background voice on the tape - Limas says it was Villalobos laughing in the background about the claim.

In the above conversation Limas claims to be talking to Armando Villalobos

RUELAS CASE

Limas is testifying that no pretrial diversion in pot case - but that Villalobos requested Limas get letters like those discussed above to allow him to justify the pretrial diversion.   The documents show Ruelas was going to testify against someone else.  Ruelas did about 2-3 years on PTD. 

Peter Gilman the court DA could not give the PTD because it was a pot case.  Then Gilman also demanded Ruelas testify.   Limas went to Villalobos and got PTD althought not allowed by law.  Limas then claims to have paid Villalobos $300

VINCENTE ATKINSON

Limas is saying after the PTD was agreed to and the abatement granted.  he had no involvement in the case.

DOJ Wynne is remiinding the jury it was the DA's office who raised the prior offense - which could have formed a basis to deny the PTD,

PTD conditions include no prior arrests.  So whether Atkinson was convicted is meaningless. 

Atkinson according to Limas never served as a confidential informant - he claims Villalobos claim otherwise was to justify the PTD.

Counsel is in side bar with Judge Hanen

Redirect on this issue apparently shut down

REVIEWING MORE FBI INTERVIEWS

They are discussing an agent in Houston - at the meeting was Mr. Wynne, and Jennifer Smith - Limas and Limas' counsel.  Jennifer Smith did not ask any questions.  Limas says questions asked by Wynne and his lawyer.

The meeting was about Mr. Rosenthal.  Limas is correcting mistake in 302 form - he says he considers Gamez a friend but the report says otherwise

Jeffery Millar - advertising agent for Limas election

Discussing how Limas helped Villalobos beat Yolanda de Leon and how Peter Zavaletta is protecting her.

We are back on Livingston - Limas recommended Villalobos going after Livingston family was not right and that it was like a show by DA's office for the family and the public. 

By show Limas means Villalobos was trying to attrack attention. 

The criminal against against Livingston's father was placed in Limas court.  Limas does not remember what happened in the case.  Limas does not remember a trial in the case.  The I-Docket sheet shows dismissed on 8/15/2008, the case against the father was dismissed.  Limas dismissed after the political storm passes. 

MENTON MURRY TRANSFERS LIVINGSTON'S CASE TO LIMAS COURT

Limas claims, but court did not allow for it, Murray offered to transfer the case. 

LIMAS PLEA AGREEMENT

Limas admits to pleading to one count of RICO.  Limas agrees that the plea only agreed to part of what he did.  They are discussing Limas future sentencing.  Limas agrees the other matters not part of the plea will come out in the presentence investigation report and can be considered by Judge Hanen during sentencing. 

It has been 2 years since Limas plead guilty and still has not been sentenced.  Limas says he cannot withdraw his plea and he has no reason to withdraw his plea.

The plea does not include the government has to like his testimony.  Limas believes he will go to prison and probation is not really an option.  Limas no one from the government has offered probation.  His career is shot - he turned in his law licence - his family is not doing well.

Ray Marchant also gave him money for helping with sanctions and ad litems

Eddie Trevino Limas claims never gave him money for judicial favors.  Limas claims only de la Fuente and Valle

Now he says he forgot about Jim Solis also gave him money.  Limas is getting emotional - the family question moved him.  he has now recovered -  it was a small emotional moment

Limas claims he got money for helping in a defamation case.

Limas is claiming Valle always gave him only very small amounts.

Limas 4/20/2010 - 4k check for property which he owned with de la Fuente - it had nothing to do with any case.

Limas claims he did not hang out with Villalobos socially - it was an age difference.

LIVINGSTON PLEA AND SENTENCING

Limas is verifying people can watch proceedings.  Villalobos came in through the front.  He went next to Korina Barraza. 

Limas verifies the prosecutor did not object to Gladden's on record request that Livingston be given 60 days to get his affairs in order

Note:  Herald archives show Mattingly states it happend in chambers.  It is not clear in the article who made the objection

They are discussing the issue of the payment in the McDonald's bag.

Judge Hanen is discussing a bench trial concerning Vicente Atkinson and the signed contract.   He did not complete the PTD and then reoffended.  The government wants to add a new document - the signed PTD contract.  The DOJ just got it from probation during the Limas testimony.

Androphy wants limitations on the document getting it in - but Androphy wants the jury to know it is new information.  Androphy does not want the jury to know Atkinson did not successfully complete PTD.

Atkinson was rearrested for burglary of a habitation .

Judge Hanen will allow the document in, but wants the comment section redacted.

Lunch Break will reumse at 1:20

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the coverage. It's as if we were there.

Anonymous said...

Can't believe you are praising judge Hanen now, after bashing him not too long ago? Wierd.

BobbyWC said...

What is wierd is you believe that if the BV points out a problem with someone, honesty dictates that when that same person does do something right it should not be pointed out.

This is what is wrong with so many Americans - you form and opinion about someone and stick with it regardless of the evidence which shows otherwise.

I stand by all my coverage of Judge Hanen - good and bad - that is what the BV does - it covers the facts without regards for a bias. When you have a problem I will cover it - when you act in an honerable way I will cover it.

Bobby WC

Anonymous said...

Well said Bobby,

This is the idealogical problem that is the basis for our Rep. vs Dem ineptitude. Once a stance or opinion is taken it can never be changed. This has blown my mind over the last several years. The fact that we grow and learn from experiences around us and in turn change our opinion on something is a good thing called "maturation". I also like anybody that can be objective enough to point a negative about someone and then agree with them about a totally different point.
Good Job. Haters will be haters and idiots that are uneducated and are happy to remain ignorant, will always remain ignorant and stupid. This is one of Countys biggest problems. We get crappy leaders because nobody is informed.

Anonymous said...

Is the court room packed?

BobbyWC said...

Yes, at time people have had to wait outside for a spot to open

Bobby WC