Ex-judge’s request for emergency release denied

Former state District Judge Rodolfo “Rudy” Delgado’s request for emergency release from prison due to fears of contracting COVID-19 was denied Tuesday, records show.

The ruling to deny Delgado’s request to be sent to home confinement amid the COVID-19 outbreak came a day after U.S. District Judge Alfred H. Bennett ordered Delgado to cease filing supplemental documents for that request.

Delgado had asked the court, in a 23-page request filed April 27, to be released from the Federal Medical Center in Fort Worth due to his own medical conditions amid the pandemic; fearing that his medical issues would make him vulnerable to contraction.

The filing detailed the very few appointments Delgado has had since his arrival at the facility in late November; and his current living conditions, which include being roommates with a man who is nearly 80 years old and suffers from Leukemia.

“Due to the small size of the cell, Mr. Delgado’s bunk has to touch his cellmate’s bunk,” the document stated. “There are approximately 250 inmates in the unit. Social distancing in this close-confined area as well as inside his individual cell is impossible.”

The filing by Delgado’s attorney painted a concerning picture of lack of safety protocols inside the facility, underscoring the number of positive cases confirmed, which as of the filing had exceeded more than 200 cases. This is the most for any of the federal facilities reported at that time.

The government opposed Delgado’s request for compassionate release, stating, among other reasons, that Delgado had been less than stellar in maintaining his personal health, using as an example that Delgado continued to drink alcohol, even years after obtaining a new liver due to failing health, and alcohol abuse.

“ The defendant has also shown a disregard for his own health over the years, most specifically by continuing to drink alcohol heavily even after he was somehow able to procure a liver transplant for himself. The evidence does not support that the defendant would suddenly start to follow medical advice to avoid contracting COVID-19 if he were granted the relief he seeks. For these reasons there would be no meaningful mitigation of the risk the defendant faces regarding COVID-19 were he to be released,” the government argued in the filing.

Finally, the government made it clear that allowing Delgado to go home would send a bad message to the community; as Delgado has served less than 10 percent of his 60-month prison sentence.

Delgado, who began serving his sentence related to his bribery conviction in November, is scheduled to be released from the federal prison facility in November 2024, when the 60-month sentence would be fulfilled.