The pesky question when handling a bribe: ‘How to disguise it?’

money hands

A former state district judge in Brownsville testified on Thursday that he took kickbacks from several lawyers during his time on the bench, the Associated Press reports.

Abel Limas, 57, who pleaded guilty last year to racketeering and awaits sentencing, told a jury that he accepted about $11,000 from his friend, Port Isabel lawyer Ray Marchan, 55.

That money was payment for favors including appointing Marchan to represent children in civil cases, which can generate “quick, easy money,” Limas said, according to the Brownsville Herald.

Marchan’s case is the first to go to trial in a wide-ranging federal corruption investigation that ensnared a former state representative and the district attorney in Cameron County.

Marchan was indicted last year, accused of racketeering, bribery and conspiracy. (View the indictment against Marchan here.) He has pleaded not guilty.

In a recording of a 2008 phone conversation between Marchan and Limas played in court yesterday, Marchan asked Limas whether a payment should come in the form of “a loan to your wife or a loan to somebody?”

Limas explained to the courtroom: “How to disguise it, that’s what he’s asking me.”

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Contact Mike Cronin at mike@texaswatchdog.org or 713-228-2850. Follow him on Twitter at @michaelccronin or @texaswatchdog.

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Photo of money by flickr user 401K, used via a Creative Commons license.