Former County Judge, District Clerk Sentenced to 6 years in Prison
POSTED: Monday, August 15, 2011 - 4:49pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - 12:43pm
After years of investigating former El Paso County Judge Luther Jones and district clerk Gilbert Sanchez the U.S. Attorney's Office says justice is now served.
"We were able to bring to light much of the corruption that was occurring in the city and hopefully as Judge Montalvo said, this will send a message to others that corruption will not be tolerated," Assistant District Attorney Laura Gregory Franco said.
Jones and Sanchez have been accused of scheming to secure a multimillion dollar contract between the county and one of Jones' clients.
Witnesses testified that Jones also bribed Sanchez with cash and a trip to Vegas to help win Sanchez's support.
Both defense attorneys argued for lesser sentences for their clients. Jones' attorney said he should spend less than four years in prison and Sanchez's attorney argued his client should only spend one day more than the minimum sentence, or 366 days in jail.
Jones and Sanchez have both been sentenced to six years in prison and three years on supervised release.
On top of that, Jones must pay a $50,000 fine.
"Well, they both decided to commit the same crime, they both decided to go to trial together so, they both deserve to spend time together in prison, so they'll both leave prison together," Assistant District Attorney Tony Franco said.
Both men awaited their fate in the federal courthouse handcuffed in red jump suits and they both waived their right to speak in front of the judge.
22 people have been convicted in the public corruption probe.
At this point, the U.S. Attorney's Office says it can't even calculate how much money taxpayers have lost to fraud.
"If you look at the whole city they've lost millions and millions of dollars because of this and it will always be hard to come back and calculate how much we lost but what's important is not just the money that we lost but the confidence we lost in our elected officials," Tony Franco said.
Jones and Sanchez have 10 days to appeal the sentence.
"We respect the judicial system, we will be appealing and we'll save the rest of what we have to say for the court of appeals," defense attorney John Cline said.
Jones and Sanchez could get more jail time added on top of their current sentence.
They will both be tried in another corruption trial in April of 2012.