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UPDATED: Businessman’s Son, Partner Arrested for Bribery in Zeta Money Laundering Trial

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U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman Speaks after the sentencing Thursday
Melissa del Bosque
U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman speaks to the media on Thursday.

(Updated 4:58 p.m.) Francisco Colorado Cessa, Jr. and Ramon Segura Flores appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Austin Friday afternoon in the same clothes they had worn to court the day before. And this time they wore shackles.

The two were arrested in a parking lot near the courthouse Thursday evening on charges of conspiracy to bribe U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks who is presiding over a Zetas money laundering case involving Francisco Colorado Cessa Sr.

The 25-year old university student Colorado Cessa Jr. and 52-year old Ramon Segura, a CPA and founding business partner of ADT Petroleum Services along with Colorado Cessa Sr., will be held without bond for two weeks until their detention hearings, said Judge Andrew Austin Friday afternoon. Both men could face five years in jail if found guilty. Colorado Cessa Sr. who was sentenced to 20 years by Judge Sparks for his role in the Zetas money-laundering scheme Thursday could also face additional jail time for the alleged bribery attempt, according to the criminal complaint filed in court.

(Original Story) The Zetas money laundering trial at a federal courthouse in Austin took another dramatic turn late Thursday with the arrest of Francisco Colorado Cessa’s business partner and his son, for attempting to bribe the judge presiding over the trial.

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks sentenced Cessa to 20 years in prison for money laundering on Thursday. Later in the day, Colorado Cessa’s business associate Ramon Segura and Francisco Colorado Cessa Jr. were arrested for attempting to bribe Sparks.

Segura had testified in court early Thursday in Colorado Cessa’s defense. But behind the scenes, federal prosecutors say Segura and Colorado Cessa’s son approached someone they believed to be close to the judge and offered more than $1 million in exchange for a lesser sentence for the 52-year-old Colorado Cessa.

In May, Colorado Cessa was found guilty of helping the Zetas launder money by buying racehorses in the United States, a scheme the Observer detailed in August.

U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman said federal agents first learned of the bribery plans in August through jailhouse phone calls between Segura, Colorado Cessa and his son. FBI agents set up a sting, and a confidential informant posed as a confidant of Judge Sparks who could pass the bribe along to the judge.

The two men were arrested in the parking lot outside the federal courthouse Thursday. They will be arraigned today by a federal magistrate judge in the same federal courthouse where co-conspirators in the Zetas money laundering scheme are being sentenced.

Pitman said Friday that Judge Sparks was unaware of the bribery attempts or the federal sting set up to catch Segura and Colorado Cessa’s son. “He had no idea,” Pitman said. “In the United States we respect the rule of law and won’t tolerate corruption and lawlessness.”

Melissa del Bosque joined The Texas Observer staff in 2008. She specializes in reporting on immigration and the U.S.-Mexico border. Her work has been published in national and international publications including TIME magazine and the Mexico City-based Nexos magazine. Melissa is a 2014-15 Lannan Fellow at The Investigative Fund.

  • Charlie Patin

    Good job. More trash off the streets.