USDA Lead Animal Health Technician Roberto Adams has pleaded not guilty to the felony charge of bribery of a public official and demanded a jury trial.
A Grand Jury indictment accuses Adams of accepting bribes from March 2019 through November 2021 to allow tick-infested and diseased cattle to enter the United States without inspection or quarantine.
If convicted on the sole count of the indictment, the sentence maximums are 15 years in federal prison and $250,000 in fines.
Federal officials arrested Adams in Laredo, TX, on March 3.
The indictment says he “did directly and indirectly, corruptly demand, seek, receive, accept and agree to receive and accept personally a thing of value, namely United States Currency, as an influence for the performance of an official act, and in return for and with the intent of being induced to act and omit to do any act in violation of his official duty, that is, for allowing tick-infested and diseased cattle to enter the United States without properly inspecting and/or quarantining them, in violation of his lawful duties as a Lead Animal Health Technician for the United States Department of Agriculture.”
Adam’s initial court appearance was before federal Magistrate Judge Diana Song Quiroga on March 8. He was remanded to custody until a $75,000 bond was satisfied.
Adam’s defense attorney is Philip Daniel DelRio of Laredo. DelRio waived arraignment for his client.
Ahead of a jury trial, the judge gave government prosecutors instructions on providing so-called Brady materials to the defense and identifying people who might have a financial interest in the case’s outcome. If the thing of value times three exceeds $250,000, the financial penalty may be increased to a higher amount.
In Houston, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has a Financial Litigation section representing the United States in the bribery case.
Feeder cattle from Mexico cross the U.S. border in great numbers: 1.128 million head in 2021 and 1.441 million in 2020.
The jury trial for Adams will be 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 isn’t set. However, the final pretrial conference is scheduled for May 3.
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