Attorney gets 20 years in prison for racketeering

December 4, 2013 5:00:29 AM PST
A federal judge sentenced an Austin personal injury attorney to 20 years in prison late Tuesday on racketeering charges stemming from a judicial bribery investigation.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen sentenced Marc Rosenthal 10 months after a jury in Corpus Christi convicted him on 13 counts including racketeering conspiracy, mail fraud and tampering with a proceeding. Hanen threw out convictions on two of the mail fraud counts this week, leaving convictions on 11 counts.

Prosecutors alleged Rosenthal was one of the lawyers who bribed former state District Judge Abel Limas for favorable decisions. Rosenthal's practice was based in Austin, but he had a satellite office in Brownsville. Limas was a Cameron County district judge at the time.

While Limas was still on the bench, he agreed to go work for Rosenthal after his term was up.

Rosenthal was among a dozen people, mostly lawyers, snagged in the investigation, which had Limas at its center. Limas, who cooperated extensively with authorities, was sentenced in August to six years in prison.

Rosenthal's arrangement with Limas appeared to be lucrative. Prosecutors filed a motion Monday detailing four cases in which Rosenthal won large settlements through undue influence. The government asked that Rosenthal be ordered to forfeit more than $7.8 million.

Among his deeds, Rosenthal paid witnesses to testify a certain way and even paid someone to act as a witness who in reality had not been at the scene, according to court documents. Rosenthal's middle man for some of these activities was former state legislator Jose Santiago "Jim" Solis who worked "of counsel" for his firm in Brownsville. Solis was sentenced to nearly four years in prison in August.

In January, Limas testified that Marc Rosenthal offered him $100,000 plus a percentage of attorney fees for cases that he brought him after leaving office. While Limas was still in office, Rosenthal helped fund his campaign and promised him a cut of attorney fees, Limas said.

The largest case was a $14 million settlement after the 2008 crash of a medical services helicopter.

Recorded conversations and phone calls between Limas, Solis and others laid out a plan to give Limas 10 percent of the attorney fees from the helicopter crash case settlement, according to court documents.

Rosenthal was arrested in 2011.

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