Express-News Reporter Guillermo Contreras, who covers the federal-courts beat, has been writing scoop after scoop about an FBI investigation at the Bexar County courthouse in San Antonio. The latest bombshell is a story about a plea deal for local defense lawyer Alberto “Al” Acevedo Jr., who lays out in excruciating detail how he bribed Bexar County District Judge Angus McGinty by giving him cash, paying for car repairs and selling the judge’s Mercedes for him:
— Jerry Lara (@fotografolara) March 17, 2014
“In exchange for these bribes, Judge McGinty provided favorable judicial rulings which benefited me and my clients,” Acevedo says in the court document. “Judge McGinty provided these favorable judicial rulings as requested, and as opportunities arose. These favorable rulings included leniency at sentencing and less restrictive conditions of release.”
The clients included a man who was convicted of DWI and sentenced by McGinty to three years imprisonment. In court, McGinty had said the defendant had committed so many offenses it didn’t make any sense to put him on probation. Yet after Acevedo asked him to reduce the sentence, the judge did just that and sentenced him to four years community supervision:
On Sept. 10, Gabriel A. Lopez stood before then-state District Judge Angus McGinty and received three years in prison and a $1,500 fine for his no-contest plea to drunken driving.
He admitted his blood alcohol level was 0.21 — more than 21/2 times the legal limit. It was his third driving-while-intoxicated conviction.
“There comes a time when someone has committed so many offenses that it doesn’t make sense to put them on probation,” McGinty told Lopez, 35, who appeared with attorney Leandro Renaud.
The judge noted Lopez had 11 prior criminal cases and had received probation four times, while three of those were revoked.
“That’s unacceptable, Mr. Lopez,” McGinty admonished. “I do not think probation is appropriate.”
But just three days later, on Sept. 13, Lopez stood before McGinty again, this time with lawyer Al Acevedo Jr. And this time, he walked out a happier man after the judge changed Lopez’s sentence to four years of probation.
“Mr. Lopez, when you were here last, and I sentenced you, it’s because I thought you had earned the right to go to” prison, McGinty said. “Your attorney has done a good job of pointing out some facts that I didn’t adequately consider before.”
In reality, the FBI has alleged, Acevedo had the good graces of the judge because he had served as McGinty’s personal car service — paying for repairs on the jurist’s two luxury cars with the expectation that the scales of justice would tilt heavily in favor of Acevedo’s clients.
Later, Acevedo’s law partner congratulated Acevedo. “I guess it does make a difference givin’, givin’ people money, right?”
Acevedo laughed. “Sure does,” he replied.
Other clients that benefited from the judge’s leniency included an alleged bank robber and a man charged with aggravated robbery.
McGinty resigned after word of the federal investigation spread but hasn’t yet been charged.