Cartel associates get 1-year sentence for bribery

FILE - In this June 12, 2012 file photo, FBI agents overlook a horse ranch under investigation in Lexington, Okla. Prosecutors in Texas say Jose Trevino Morales, a brother of two top leaders of Los Zetas, oversaw the purchase of hundreds of quarter horses at a ranch in Oklahoma. (AP Photo/Brett Deering, File)

AUSTIN (AP) — Two Mexican citizens associated to the Zetas drug cartel have been sentenced to one year and one day in prison for attempting to bribe a federal judge, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement that drug cartel associates Francisco Agustin Colorado Cebado and Ramon Segura Flores each must also pay a $10,000 fine.

Both defendants and Francisco Antonio Colorado Cessa, the father of Francisco Agustin Colorado, pleaded guilty in March to attempting to offer a $1.2 million bribe to the judge in exchange for a reduced sentence for the elder Colorado, who’s now serving 20 years for laundering nearly $25 million of drug proceeds from the Los Zetas drug cartel. The complex laundering scheme involved purchasing, breeding, racing and selling some 500 racehorses throughout the southwest.

A confidential federal source contacted Segura and got him in touch with two undercover agents from the FBI and the Austin police department who said they could deliver the bribe to the judge and asked a $25,000 fee for that.

The FBI and Austin police recorded conversations between the elder Colorado and his son at the Bastrop County jail while the defendants discussed how to bribe the judge.

Prosecutors say District Judge Sam Sparks did not participate in the scheme.

On the day of Colorado Cessa’s sentencing, Sparks —who was unaware of the plan to bribe him— imposed the maximum punishment of 20 years. Hours later, federal agents arrested Colorado Cebado and Segura.

Colorado Cessa will be sentenced in October and faces up to five years in prison for the attempted bribery charge.

Both defendants sentenced Tuesday were arrested on September 5 and they will benefit from a sentence time reduction available for those serving more than one year terms. Segura’s attorney, Paul Nugent, said they have served their time and are expected to be released and deported in the immediate future.

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