"U.S. District Judge Randy Crane said he intended Falcon's sentence to send a message to other public officials."
November 20, 2008
The Texas Department of Transportation's former Pharr maintenance director was sentenced to five years in prison Thursday on federal bribery charges.
Cresenciano "Chano" Falcon, 56, of Edinburg, admitted in May that he demanded money from contractors before he would certify their work on highway projects as complete.
One contractor - who had received a road sweeping project with the department - told the FBI about Falcon's scheme, when he couldn't afford to pay the bribe, prosecutors said.
Investigators later captured Falcon and two other TxDOT employees on audio and video as they extorted payments.
During a sentencing hearing Thursday, U.S. District Judge Randy Crane said he intended Falcon's sentence to send a message to other public officials. In addition to the prison term, Falcon is required to serve three years probation after he is released.
His two co-defendants - Noe Beltran, 42, of San Juan, and Ray Llanes, 50, of San Benito - have also pleaded guilty to extortion charges and are set to be sentenced Dec. 4.
Falcon was the maintenance administrator for TxDOT's Pharr district - which includes eight counties in South Texas. In that role, he oversaw all maintenance TxDOT performs in the area. Beltran and Llanes worked as highway inspectors.
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