Ex-state judge asks for release on COVID-19 risks

Medical issues, lack of safety in prison cited

Less than six months into a five-year prison sentence, a former state judge is asking to be sent home due to his underlying medical conditions and the risk COVID-19 poses to him inside prison walls, court records show.

On the same day Bureau of Prisons officials confirmed the death of two inmates at the Federal Medical Center in Fort Worth, ex-state judge Rodolfo “Rudy” Delgado formally requested to be released from the facility where more than 200 people have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Citing these cases, Delgado’s attorney, Michael McCrum, formally requested the 67-year-old Edinburg man be released due to his underlying medical condition.

The 23-page filing notes that on April 1, Delgado — “realizing that his age and physical maladies place him in the upper level of risk for severe consequences of COVID-19, plus the fact that his proximity to other sick prisoners without adequate protection leave him in an extremely vulnerable place” — filed an administrative request to be released and be placed on home confinement.

More than a week later, Delgado, who has only served roughly five months of his 5-year sentence, received notification that his request had been under consideration since April 6.

“On April 23, Warder Wilson of FMC Fort Worth released a bulletin to the prisoners. It announced that (the bureau of prisons) police had changed on all home confinement requests; such requests would be prioritized according to whether the prisoner has served 50% of their sentence or served at least 25%, and have 18 months or less to serve. Obviously, Mr. Delgado does not fit within this criterion,” the document stated.

At his sentencing in November, Delgado’s attorney asked for leniency from the U.S. district judge who presided over his trial due to Delgado’s age and medical issues, which include hyperglycemia, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, a heart condition and a prior liver transplant, which requires him to take bi-weekly medication, the court document stated.

The filing details 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 paints a concerning picture of lack of safety protocols inside the facility; and underscores the number of positive cases confirmed, which as of the filing had exceeded more than 200 cases — the most for any of the federal facilities reported.

Delgado also appealed his July 2019 conviction to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in a 57-page filing. His attorney argued that his convictions on eight counts, which include conspiracy, bribery, obstruction of justice and violation of the travel act, should be thrown out because there was insufficient evidence to find him guilty of the charges.