Interest charge

Bribery at border leads to felony charge for USDA tech

USDA Senior Animal Health Technician Roberto Adams has pleaded not guilty to the bribery of a public official charge and demanded a jury trial.

A Grand Jury indictment accuses Adams of accepting bribes from March 2019 to November 2021 to allow tick-infested and diseased cattle into the United States without inspection or quarantine.

If convicted on the count alone, the maximum penalties are 15 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.

Federal authorities arrested Adams in Laredo, TX on March 3.

The indictment states that he “directly and indirectly, by corruption, solicited, sought, received, accepted and agreed to personally receive and accept a thing of value, namely, currency of the United States, as influence for the performance of an official act, and in exchange for and with the intention of being induced to act and to omit to do any act in violation of his official duty, i.e. to allowing tick-infested and diseased cattle to enter the United States without properly inspecting and/or quarantining them, in violation of his legitimate duties as Senior Animal Health Technician for the United States Department of Agriculture United States.

Adam’s initial court appearance was before Federal Magistrate Diana Song Quiroga on March 8. He was taken into custody until a $75,000 bond was posted.

Adam’s defense attorney is Philip Daniel DelRio of Laredo. DelRio dropped the indictment against his client.

Before a jury trial, the judge instructed government prosecutors on providing so-called Brady documents to the defense and identifying people who may have a financial interest in the outcome of the case. If the thing of value multiplied by three exceeds $250,000, the financial penalty may be increased to a higher amount.

In Houston, the US Attorney’s Office has a Financial Litigation Section representing the United States in the corruption case.

Feeder cattle from Mexico cross the US border in large numbers: 1.128 million head in 2021 and 1.441 million in 2020.

The jury trial for Adams will take place in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas before Federal Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo. The actual start date for jury selection and trial is not set. However, the final case conference is scheduled for May 3.

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