Federal Jury Convicts El Paso Attorney Luther Jones and Former El Paso County District Clerk Gilbert Sanchez on Conspiracy Charges
|U.S. Attorney’s Office April 20, 2011|
United States Attorney John E. Murphy and FBI Special Agent in Charge David Cuthbertson announced that a federal jury this afternoon convicted El Paso attorney Luther Jones and El Paso County District Clerk Gilbert Sanchez for scheming to deprive El Paso County and its citizens of the right to the honest services of elected members of the El Paso County Commissioner’s Court.
“This verdict marks another milestone in the investigation and prosecution of individuals who have attempted to corrupt members of the El Paso County government. It sends a strong message that the people of El Paso will not tolerate such dishonesty,” stated United States Attorney John E. Murphy.
The jury found Jones and Sanchez guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and deprivation of honest services and one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and deprivation of honest services.
Evidence presented during trial revealed that from October 2003 until July 2004, Jones and Sanchez conspired with others in a scheme to secure a multi-million-dollar document-imaging contract between El Paso County and one of Luther Jones’ clients. Specifically, Jones offered bribes in the form of cash, travel expenses to Las Vegas, and gratuities to Sanchez, which Sanchez accepted, for his support of the contract and influence in his official capacity as an elected public servant. In addition, Sanchez directed another county employee, with assistance from Jones, to structure a Request for Proposal (RFP) with limitations embedded in the RFP that would assist Jones’ client in securing the contract. Furthermore, Jones caused cash bribes in the form of campaign contributions to be paid to a member of the El Paso County Commissioners Court for support in securing the multi-million-dollar vendor contract for his client.
“We are very encouraged by the guilty verdicts rendered by the jury today. I believe it sends a strong signal that public procurements must be conducted in a fair and transparent manner and not subject to the corruption of illegal outside influences. I would like to express my appreciation to the trial team of agents and attorneys, who did a tremendous job of bringing this prosecution through trial and to the jury,” stated David Cuthbertson, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, El Paso Division.
Each fraud count carries up to 20 years’ imprisonment. No sentencing date has been scheduled. This investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted for the government by Assistant United States Attorneys Laura Franco Gregory and Antonio Franco, Jr.