Former Texas Representative “Jim” Solis Admits to Role in Limas Extortion Scheme

BROWNSVILLE, TE—Former Texas representative Jose Santiago “Jim” Solis, has been convicted of aiding and abetting the extortion by former state district judge Abel Corral Limas, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.

Solis, 47, of Harlingen, Texas, pleaded guilty to a one-count criminal information today before U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen. The criminal information which charges Solis with aiding and abetting extortion by former state judge Abel Corral Limas, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1951 and 2 (The “Hobbs Act”) was filed early this morning, April 29, 2011, in Brownsville, Texas.

Solis, a life-long resident of Harlingen, has practiced law in south Texas for many years, focusing primarily in personal injury cases. Solis served as a member of the Texas House of Representatives, representing District 38, for seven terms—retiring from the Legislature in 2007.

At today’s hearing, Solis admitted his part in former Judge Limas’ use of the office of judge of the 404th District Court as a criminal enterprise to enrich himself and others, including Solis, through extortion. Limas accepted money and other consideration from attorneys in civil cases pending in his court, including Solis, in return for favorable pre-trial rulings in certain cases, including a case involving a helicopter crash at South Padre Island in February 2008. Solis specifically admitted to paying Limas $8,000 in May 2008, a payment they described as eight “golf balls,” for favorable rulings.

Solis faces a maximum prison term of 20 years, a fine of up to $250,000 or twice the amount of pecuniary gain—whichever is greater, and a term of supervised release of up to five years. As part of his plea agreement, Solis agreed to and did forfeit $250,000 to the government this morning. Sentencing is set before Judge Hanen on Aug. 1, 2011. Solis is expected to be released on bond today pending the sentencing hearing.

The ongoing investigation leading to the charges against Solis case is being conducted by the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and the Brownsville Police Department. Assistant United States Attorneys Michael Wynne and Oscar Ponce are prosecuting this case.