Thursday, May 23, 2013

 
VERDICT DAY FOR ARMANDO VILLALOBOS

BREAKING NEWS - THE VERDICT IS:

If the current number of readers hold, Thursday will be about 60 readers shy of yesterdays record. Today's is the second highest readership since the trial started.

To my new readers - an informed electorate is the only way to stop what is happening in Cameron county.  I cannot force anyone to read anything, but if you cannot take ten minutes of your day to read the BV every day, then you are not participating in our community to the fullest extent.

Brooks Egerton covered the priest molestation story in Dallas, including the conspiracy by the Bishop, the Chief Administrative Judge for the Region, and Chief Pro Bono Counsel for the State Bar of Texas - Darryl Jordon  to void the $119 million judgment.  I represented the whistle blower in the case.  Several years ago he lectured at NYU school of journalism and was honest with the students.  Brooks told the students how the editors at the Dallas Morning News pull names from his stories because it was the wishes of well placed people in the community, including the publisher, editor, and board members.  This is how the press works - which is why they are not trusted.

The Herald is no different - they  declare someone a sacred cow - and they are given cover no matter what they do wrong.  The BV has no sacred cows, and solid sources and supporters within every governmental entity.

If you stay with the BV you will get those stories - and commentary.   My long term readers know that I do not expect people to agree with my opinion pieces - all I ask is that you think.

The BV in regards to news stories is  document driven.  You will find a lot of links to original documents. 

I hope that at least 50% of my new readers stay with the BV.  You cannot choose to remain ignorant of what is happening and then complain.

Rules on Comments After Verdict

It is my intent to allow my readers to let there opinions flow.  All I ask is that you do not include allegations about people not covered by the trial or not otherwise already reported.

It is too easy for an anony poster to post defamatory comments about someone.  The BV has always rejected such comments and always will.  Cyber-bullying is the norm on the other Brownsville blogs - the BV  does not play that way - those of you who feel a need to  bully know which blogs will allow for it.

To my new readers if you choose to move on after this, I am fine with that.  I hope you learned something about our system.  I will try to meet with DA Saenz and County Judge Cascos to discuss what I learned and what  I think needs to get done.  We can  fix this - DA Saenz is in a mess not of his making - the good news is he is investigating those in his office who were party to what happened.  I believe DA Saenz and Judge Cascos will work to fix the problems.

Villalobos

The verdict will come down by counts.  I expect  the case to be given to the jury about lunch time.  We might have a verdict by 3 p.m. or earlier - it depends on how the jury sees the evidence.

At 9 a.m. we will start with the judge reading a 29 page jury charge.  I may not blog much of that - I will see.  Then I am being told each side is expecting an hour for closing argument.  As soon as the judge announces how much time he is giving each  side, I will let you know.  I will blog closing argument.

Once the jury retires to the jury room  they are  to go over  the charge count by count. That could take an hour.  A quick verdict would be by 3 p.m.

CLOSING ARGUMENT

Each side will get 60 minutes - AUSA will open with 30-35 minutes - then Androphy and Colvin will try and equally split their 60 minutes.  Then AUSA Wynne will close the case with the remaining  time.  The jury will then be dismissed to deliberate.

JUDGE HANEN READING JURY CHARGE

Sorry for delay in getting started.  I had connection problems - Daisy with ValleyCentral helped me fix the problem.

Judge Hanen is estimating the reading of the charge will take about minutes - he started at about 9:05 a.m. - right now he is in the part of general instructions and what the jury can and cannot consider.

He explained to them they can use common sense inferences based on their life experiences. 

He is explaining each element of the crime must be proven

Count One:  Alleged to have used his office to illegally generate income for himself and others - basic charge - it must have affect interstate commerce - this is the Rico Charge - Judge Hanen is explaining a lot more - accepting $80,000 in the Livingston by negotiating the plea and civil case - all to permit the cash bond to satisfy the civil judgment.

The jury is very engaged in listening to Judge Hanen - this is D-Day Villalobos knows that within a few hours his life will be decided.  It is in the hands of 12 people.  You can see he is nervous - the next 4 hours will be difficult for him.  He knows we have come to an end - there is no predicting a jury. 

For a Rico charge all 12 jurors must agree on the 2 acts they believe beyond a reasonable doubt.

Count 2:  Conspired with people employed with the DA's office to commit a crime. This is a separate account from the RICO charge. 2 or more people agreed to commit  the RICO offense and the Defendant knew about the conspiracy

Counts 3.:  Through 9

3,5,6,7,8,9,  A crime to affect commerce and gain property neither he nor his office is entitled to.

Count Three:  Deals with Eddie Lucio

Count Five:    Deals with Tractor Trailer Case involving Eddie Lucio and Oscar de la Fuente

Count Six.       Deals with House Money case involving Oscar de la Fuente

Count Seven:   Deals with multiple payments from ODLF in a series of criminal cases involving DA's office and favorable decisions

Count Eight:   Deals with extortion - Villalobos obtained property not due to his office - obtained multiple amounts - favorable decisions through Abel Limas

Count Nine:  Deals with criminal cases with favorable decisions for clients of Joe Valle

The government does not have to prove the crimes occurred on the exact days as alleged - just on or about - beyond a reasonable doubt.

10:00 a.m.

Count 4:  Charges - did affect interstate commerce - enabled Judge Limas to obtain property not due to him or his office in exchange of performance or non performance of official discretion. - this is based on the Livingston case.

Count 4 is different because Villalobos is accusing of helping Limas

Judge Hanen is summarizing his instruction and duties of the jury - the instruction is done.  It took him about an hour - the jury needs to read each charge before they vote - logic therefore tells me the jury will need more than an hour - I predict about 12:30 when the case is given to the jury.  I predict between 2:30 and 3 p.m. for a verdict.

10: 13 a.m. AUSA SURVIC:  Closing Argument:  He is asking the jury to keep in mind - the law comes from the judge. The law discussed by both sides in closing is not the law.  What the lawyers have said is not evidence - it only comes from exhibits and testimony.

Jury to use their common sense  and inferences.  "Use your understanding of how people do things."  AUSA Survic agrees with the defense on one thing - looking on chart created by Agent Gripka - the jury must believe what Oscar De la Fuentes, Valle and Limas said is true.

In considering who is telling the truth.

"Is what a person is saying make sense?"  "You have to look to the whole of what they say"  The courtroom is packed.

Three key witnesses - Abel Limas, Oscar de la Fuente and Joe Valle

Abel  Limas - credibility - he has admitted to his crimes - he does have a motive to please the government - so he will cooperate - but if you look at the testimony it is consistent with the records in the cases - The case is made with the supporting evidence - not just Abel Limas' testimony.  Had all they had was Abel Limas's testimony - the government agrees they would not have a case.

Oscar de la Fuente not prosecuted - he cannot practice in federal court - his reputation is shot - the State Bar has opened an investigation - Oscar de la Fuente's testimony fits the documented evidence.

Joe Valle - has been convicted, sentenced - served his time.  The government has no control here at all.  He no longer practices law - but he testified about what he had done. 

Motivations - Abel Limas saw Villalobos as a son - after Villalobos kicked out of DA's office Abel Limas brought him in as the public defender in his court.

10:25 a.m.

Gladden - Livingstons counsel - stated Villalobos directed the negotiations in the Livingston matter. 

Mario Hernandez:  Villalobos told him to hire Eddie Lucio - a Dallas lawyer - his former law partner - a  coincidence

Rebecca RuBane - has no axe to grind - verified Mario Hernandez testimony.

Chuck Mattingly - Villalobos attacked him as a hard nose - but kept him anyway - Mattingly said he left no deal - but then he learned a deal was cut and only Villalobos could have approved the Livingston case.

Probation Officer:  Felt like Villalobos by-passed  him on Motions to Revoke

The Chase case - the original charge may have been weak, but the revocation charge was separate and should have been considered by the court

Monica Garcia - sister of the mother victim - no axe to grind  - Villalobos said he told them to hire a lawyer - Monica said no he did not and that he said to not worry he was their lawyer.

Villalobos - Survic agrees smart - Villalobos motivation is to convince the jury everyone is lying.  Villalobos testimony does not make sense. 

10:33 a.m.

Wayman - Villalobos expert - testified Villalobos did not have a cash hoard - government argues it wasn't a cash hoard - but too much debt - over $300,000 in credit card charges

We will break in about 10 minutes and then Villalobos lawyers will start their closing.

$34,000 in unexplained cash deposits - Villalobos

Villalobos put it on his mother and other family members.

There is also  the cost of Villalobos wife's medical school bill.

They are looking at cash in deposits - for example a $1,000 - They are showing patterns of Villalobos pulling out money over and over again - and then he buys money orders.

Villalobos mother - questioning who writes in for cash - who does that - mom makes $10-15 thousand a year

Looking at a chart on Extortion - [this gives the jury focus]  government plugging in the known evidence for each element and explaining it.

Survic at 5 minute warning -

10:43 a.m.

Livingston case - on February 12th civil settlement made - there are a series of calls between Villalobos, Eddie Lucio, and Mario Hernandez

Plus the transcript shows judge Limas was called at 6:27 p.m. a deal on the criminal case was done

Survic going count by count with the evidene in support of  the count s- he is using a chart

10: 46 a.m. Limas kept quiet about what happened because he was being paid

Survic cutting in to time reserved for AUSA Wynne

Looking at documents from Abel Limas account - showing cash after conversation and or texts

10:48 a.m.

When discussing the players the government is using their mugs shots.

The evidence shows Oscar de la Fuente did not use the chain of command before going to Villalobos -  In the forfeiture cases the DA's office could have gotten all of the money had Villalobos not brought in ODLF

Twice now Androphy has objected to Surovics  closing - this is never good.

The government appears to have over prepared closing - maybe both sides needed more time - who knows - he is skipping over evidence to move it along - Surovic is now eating up AUSA Wynne's final closing time.

10:55 a.m.

Survic - look to Lady Justice in the Lobby - the DA's office is to do Justice

Calls courtroom battle field to protect freedom

11:00 Surovic closes - in 15 minute break before Villalobos defense does closing

11:17 a.m.

We are back - there may be a problem with the charge AUSA agrees to changes waiting on what Androphy response - second problem is the language says person not defendant - they will fix the second problem - but both agree no change needed in first part.

Judge Hanen is explaining the one change of person to defendant.

Androphy to starts closing:  11:22 a.m.

Androphy says Limas, De la Fuente and Limas have no credibility and therefore the government has no credibility and therefore should acquit Villalobos

Androphy is taking the approach of prosecutorial discretion - Plea bargains are legal

Androphy is going fast and is being very forceful in his language - the jury is engaged.

95% cases are plea bargains - without negotiations nothing will get done.

It is not criminal to negotiate a plea bargain

At this rate the case will go to the jury at about 12:45 p.,m

Limas testimony - if it reasonable to believe Limas lied the jury should have reasonable doubt

Limas admitted to bad reputation for truthfulness,  In interviews with agents Limas told to stop lying - he lied because of his plea bargain  - Limas knows he has to please the government

Government 302 interviews he changed his statements

He denied getting $20,000 from Livingston's father, but on tape says he got money

Androphy notes the government agrees if you do not believe the witnesses you mus acquit

[I am reporting what is being said - without comment as to its accuracy]

11:35 a.m.

Androphy reviewing cases - Atkinson agreed to be a confidential informant  so the plea was good

Androphy will not speak much about the Livingston case - Monday Villalobos not there during the discussions - Tuesday Villalobos showed up late.

Androphy arguing that Limas is telling the truth about what happen.  He took $10,000 from Livingston's father and wanted another $10,000 [again I am only reporting what is being said]

Androphy pointing out ADA Rabb was concerned with the relationship with Livingston's counsel Millet

Oscar de la Fuente:  11:42 - Androphy ODLF lied about everything - ODLF told the FBI he only asked for favors on easy cases, but changed his testimony at trial - ODLF told the grand jury he only did pleas on victimless cases, but then changed his testimony in court

11:44

Androphy argued IG for DOJ effectively called ODLD a liar.

ODLF said AUSA Castro gave ODLF favors in his case - IG called him a liar  [again only reporting argument]

Oscar de la Fuente told the government no relationship between Pepe Villarreal murder case and House Money case - but at trial changed his testimony

NON PROSECUTION CASE

Difficult to prosecute these cases - there is a process in place to insure the victim is agreeing on their own to not prosecute.  Time does not provide for helping everyone.

De Leon car chase in school zone -

Androphy is moving too fast - I am not sure the jury can follow

Androphy is just going through the cases to show reasonable decisions by Villalobos -

for example the case of the man with cancer - he had a legitimate reason to miss his probation meetings - for example

Oscar de la Fuente admittedly was involved in corruption - but ODLF was never charged - this was the governments decision despite his admission he corrupted the system.

Government is willing to indict Villalobos about his plea bargains, but the DOJ refuses to be second guessed on their plea decisions

11:55 a.m. - Androphy past the 30 minute mark

Valle testimony - if they believe he is lying then there is reasonable doubt - Valle says he never flip flopped  - Valle told the FBI he never had a case fixed at DA's office and then changed his testimony at trial [again I am just reporting the argument]

Androphy going over a list of lies - campaign donations - checks etc

Androphy just got 5 minute warning to turn over to Norton Colvin.

12:00 p.m.

Androphy why is there no evidence of unusual money activity if Villalobos participated in this.

Villalobos dealt with cash from family.

Wayman - Villalobos had no lavish expenditures -

Why was Armando Villalobos charged?

Only have deals reached with people who agreed to cooperate.  Is it fair to second guess Villalobos - when the DOJ will not allow themselves to be second guessed.

Androphy says Villalobos was a hard working DA making important changes to the DA;s office

Norton Colvin completes closing 12:05 p.m.

Norton  - pieces did not come together until Villalobos got on the stand

If Oscar de la Fuente is lying the case falls apart

When ODLF realized his employee Meme Longoria was going to be charged he ran to DOJ to represent him and then started to talk about deals he cut with AUSA's

Not one wire tap to show Villalobos participated in a bribe - Colvin to the jury "in your heart of hearts, you know this is not true."

The only wire tap which the government made a joke of is when Limas said he got $10,000 from Livingston's father.

12:12 p.m.

DOJ wants to Monday morning quarterback the Livingston plea deal, while asking that no one Monday morning the DOJ's decisions.

Colvin - to jury - you may never have to worry about the DOJ coming after after you  - but if they do they will get everything on  you - the only thing which will protect you on that day is not the law  - not the security in the court house or the judge  - the only thing which will protect you is the jury

Colvin "The jury is the last line of defense."


AUSA Wynne about to start last of closing 12:16 p.m.

12:18 P.m.

State Bar ordered transcript of trial to go after Oscar de la Fuente'

As to sending a confidential informant into Villalobos office - by December 2011 was too late - the investigation was already known

Measuring Villalobos credibility

Wynne going over money orders - but on the same day Villalobos signed 4 checks - but Villalobos said his wife had the check book - who is lying?

April 21 - Money orders then Wynne goes over checks from 23rd also written by Villalobos.

Wynne on whether they are second guessing Villalobos - no it is whether he was paid for the deals - the second guessing is a red herring

On Villalobos mom - the use of her name on the deposit slips started after Livingston and then ended after investigation becomes known

12:29 p.m.

AUSA argued Livingston murder evidence good.

Villalobos does nothing legally to stop Livingston from leaving the courtroom or even after he leaves the courtroom to get him rearrested.

Why refer the case to a Dallas lawyer Lucio?

$200,00 which could have gone to the kids went to Lucio?  So they could get the money.

Limas - McDonald's payments - he was in hot water

Lastly - Monica - sister's testimony - Villalobos tells them you do not need a lawyer  - I am the state I am the law -

Wynne is pushing it he on last seconds of argument clock ticketing

US asks that you find Villalobos guilty on all counts

12:35 p.m. Jury being excused to jury room - now we wait

Judge Hanen relieving jurors 13 and 14 but admonishing them to not be reading papers or looking on the Internet for information because they could be called back
 
THE VERDICT IS
 
COUNT ONE:

COUNT TWO:

COUNT THREE:

COUNT FOUR:

COUNT FIVE:

COUNT SIX:

COUNT SEVEN:

COUNT EIGHT:

COUNT NINE:

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Will you be live blogging closing arguments?

BobbyWC said...

yes, I had a signal problem - I needed to reboot the device and by the time I realized the judge had entered the courtroom - it causes a ding - so it was a challenge -

Bobby WC

Anonymous said...

It sounded like he admitted to count 5 and 6 yesterday on the forfeiture cases. Would these two alone disqualify RICO?

Anonymous said...

Ignoring the evidence or who you think will win, what did you think of the respective closings?

BobbyWC said...

Giys; at thie stage I am not allowing for statements on a possible verdict.

I am pleased to say tat DOJ and Villaloboos have both thanks me for my work and objectiveity - neither side had to come to me and tell me thse things today.

I think Nortin Colvin had the best closing -

Here speaking with various people - obviously the defense thinks gthe jury will find hi guilty on all charges and the prosecution believs guilty - but people I have come to know here - we are all on the fence - we are not sure- - most seem to agree that it comes down to - do they believe Limas, Valle, and De la Fuente

Bobby WC

Anonymous said...

Excellent summation, I find it especially interesting on how ODLF is suppose to be believed in some instances and not in others. What happened to the directed verdicts, considering judge commented that the evidence was thin on some counts, I am assuming they were denied.

BobbyWC said...

Now that is how to right a comment - right - at one minute when it helps them they are asking that a witness be believed at the next minute - they say the witness is lying

It is how closing goes

Bobby WC

Anonymous said...

What was it like when Villalobos thanked you?was it awkward? Do you personally believe he is guilty on all counts?Where do you think Saenz needs to go from here?

BobbyWC said...

As you can tell from my spelling in comments I am tired - in that post I meant to say his attorneys not Villalobos himself -

But to be fair earlier in the trial I told him I thought it was a good move when he put appellate attorneys in the trial court during complex cases

I cannot tell you how many times good appeals have been lost because the trial lawyer did not preserve the error -

I give credit where credit is due - that is how I am

In that instance he thanked me for my comment

You know I am human - I feel for people - I appreciated his thank you -

The reality is the entire system went on trial hear -

Bobby WC

Anonymous said...

It seemed to me one of their key objectives was to get RICO dropped. Which charges have to be acquitted or dropped in order to avoid RICO?

Anonymous said...

Oh,ok.thought he thanked you ,Had to imagine that being akward..My gut says you know he is guilty,so i was wondering what could you say ,good luck?I agree the system went on trial here but beg to differ on the ENTIRE system....