Last week, the Texas Bar filed a lawsuit seeking to disbar former assistant district attorney Antonio “Tony” Reyes. You might remember Tony Reyes as the former assistant district attorney who pleaded guilty to accepting cash bribes for dismissing criminal charges he was assigned to prosecute. Jaime Esparza, whose office employed Reyes, has stated through the news media that it was his office who sought help from the FBI when allegations first surfaced that Reyes had been accepting bribes.
According to news media reports, Tony Reyes, an attorney since December 7, 2009, accepted two $500 cash bribes in early 2011 for the dismissal of criminal charges in cases that he was prosecuting. On November 12, 2013, Antonio Reyes was arrested after a grand jury have indicted him the previous week. On April 21, 2014, Reyes pleaded guilty to one count of “conspiracy to commit wire fraud and the deprivation of honest services”. He was sentenced to 33 months in jail followed by three years of supervised release.
According to the court records, Reyes was working for Jaime Esparza’s office when he accepted the two $500 bribes via text messages. After the arrest, Esparza’s office issued a statement stating that his office “requested the assistance from the FBI once we learned of possible criminal conduct by Antonio Reyes, who previously working in my office for nine months as a prosecutor”. According to Renee Railey, Esparza’s spokesperson, Reyes was paid via a grant for prosecuting misdemeanor cases.
According to an article in the Texas Lawyer (Former A.D.A. Who Took money to File Dismissal Motions Sentenced by Angela Morris on July 3, 2014) Reyes turned down at least two additional bribes “because he regretted what he had done and did not want to do it anymore”. The magazine quotes from the sentencing memorandum.
The article goes on to explain that in seeking a lenient sentence, Reyes’ attorney told the sentencing judge that Antonio Reyes had been addicted to alcohol and cocaine. The article adds that Reyes’ had his bond revoked after testing positive for cocaine on “Feb 5, Feb 12 and Feb 20” and on “April 1” after seeking counseling for abuse on February 22.
Morris’ Texas Lawyer article further quotes the sentencing memorandum:
“Drinking was considered normal” during Reyes’ upbringing, and eventually he “graduated to cocaine, and although he always felt he had the alcohol and cocaine under control, he did not actually realize the way they were impacting his personal life,” said the June 23 sentencing memorandum.
He still graduated from college and law school and passed the bar exam, but he was carrying “demons,” said the memorandum. He separated from his wife and “was back out hitting the bars.” He would party “until the bars closed” and then get up and go to work, “continuing the downward spiral,” said the memorandum.
He committed the crime during this time. He now knows he has “alcohol and cocaine addiction issues,” said the memorandum. He contacted the State Bar of Texas and received $5,000 for drug and alcohol rehabilitation, the memo continues.
According to the Texas Bar website, prior to his pleading guilty, Reyes did not have a disciplinary record with the bar. Currently he is prohibited from practicing law, according to the bar website, because he is under administrative sanction. Of course, he is also incarcerated at this time.
Last week, the Texas Bar filed suit seeking to have him disbarred. According to the Bar’s website, this is the severest form of discipline for any attorney.