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Former judge gets six years in graft case

BROWNSVILLE, Texas — A former judge who turned his South Texas courtroom into a money-making operation was sentenced on Wednesday to six years in prison followed by three years of supervised release.

US District Judge Andrew Hanen sentenced former state district Judge Abel Limas, 59, on one count of racketeering.

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In a tearful statement, Limas said that he willingly cooperated with authorities after his arrest because as a former police officer, lawyer, and judge, he knew the ‘‘writing was on the wall.’’

Limas drew the FBI’s attention in 2007 as he neared the end of his second term. Investigators intercepted 40,000 phone calls and collected surveillance photos documenting how Limas had converted his courtroom into a criminal enterprise, collecting bribes and kickbacks totaling $257,000.

Limas pleaded guilty in 2011 and became the government’s star witness in four related trials that shook Cameron County’s justice system. He could have faced up to 20 years in prison but received credit for cooperation.

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