A 50-year-old man from Rio Grande City has pleaded guilty to extortion under color of law, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.
Victor Canales was a Starr County attorney from 2005 to 2022. In that role, he was responsible for prosecuting misdemeanor crimes.
In September 2021, a woman reached out to Canales for assistance because her son had been charged with three misdemeanor offenses in Starr County. He said he could help her and that for $1500, he could take care of the Starr County tickets.
The mother gave Canales three money orders totaling $1500. He deposited the proceeds into his own checking account and used it for his own personal needs rather than depositing the monies into the Starr County account.
Canales then sent a series of letters to Cameron County indicating the three charges against the woman’s son would be dropped.
U.S. District Judge Ricardo Hinojosa accepted the plea and set sentencing for Dec. 15. At that time, Canales faces up to 20 years in prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.
Canales was permitted to remain on bond pending sentencing.
The FBI worked in partnership with the Texas Office of the Attorney General to conduct the Border Corruption Task Force investigation with the assistance of Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Forces agencies including the Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations, Texas Department of Public Safety - Criminal Investigations and Texas Rangers.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Pat Profit is prosecuting the case.