Assistant United States Attorney Michael J. Wynne will be the only member of Southern District of Texas’s U.S. Attorney’s office to take part in the prosecution of Cameron County District Attorney Armando Villalobos and his former law partner, Eduardo “Eddie” Luciano.
The rest of the office has been recused with the approval of Justice Department’s Associate Deputy Attorney General David Margolis because of the appearance of a conflict of interest, according to federal court records. There are more than 100 assistant attorney generals in the Southern District, according to a report in The Brownsville Herald. The Herald said numerous assistant attorney generals from the office had worked under Villalobos, a Democrat, and other former county district attorneys, besides other considerations for the recusal. Brownsville is the county seat in Cameron County.
Wynne was transferred from the Brownsville to the Houston U.S. Attorney’s Office in January 2011 and was not recused with the rest of the Southern District because he had already begun working on the case, he said.
“Because I was not formally assigned to Brownsville, I was asked to remain on the case,” Wynne said.
Wynne declined to comment on the relationship between the Brownsville U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Cameron County District Court system, of which Villalobos was in charge.
The case is now being carried out by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Texas, which will determine what role Wynne will play. Wynne’s signature appears on Villalobos’s May 7 grand jury indictment, the same day he was appointed a prosecutor in the case.
Villalobos was indicted on 12 felony counts of enriching themselves and others through bribery, extortion, favoritism, concealment and conflict of interest and other offenses, according to the indictment. Villalobos is currently running for the House of Representatives in Texas’s 34th District, but his competitor in the Democratic primary and former Willacy County District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra filed a petition with the county government May 9 to have him removed from office.
Update: This story was updated with Assistant United States Attorney Michael Wynne’s comments.