S. Texas lawyer apparent suicide ahead of prison

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Associated Press

Posted on March 1, 2013 at 10:04 AM

Updated Friday, Mar 1 at 10:32 AM

MCALLEN, Texas (AP) — The body of a South Texas attorney sentenced in December to federal prison for bribing a judge was found Thursday after he jumped from the Queen Isabella Causeway in an apparent suicide, a sheriff said.

Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio said family members identified a body found in the water late in the afternoon as that of 56-year-old Ray Marchan. Authorities said they received a report around 4 a.m. Thursday of a jumper on the bridge which connects Padre Island and Port Isabel around 4 a.m. Thursday.

Marchan had been scheduled to report Thursday to a federal prison in Fort Worth to begin serving his 3 ½ year sentence. Court records show a judge on Wednesday denied Marchan's emergency motion for bail pending his appeal. He was convicted of racketeering charges for bribing former state District Judge Abel Limas.

Marchan had been allowed to remain free until he was assigned to a prison.

Lucio said earlier Thursday that a cabdriver had taken the man who turned out to be Marchan onto the bridge and reported to authorities the man had jumped after asking the driver to stop atop the span.

Marchan was convicted in June on seven counts, including racketeering. One mail fraud conviction later was overturned.

Eric Davis, a Houston attorney handling Marchan's appeal, said he spoke with his client Wednesday.

"He did not seem despondent," Davis said. "I would not have predicted this. I'm shocked by this. He was hopeful and asserting his innocence still."

Marchan was the first of a dozen defendants swept up in a yearslong federal investigation of Limas to have his case taken to trial.

Prosecutors accused Marchan of paying Limas more than $11,000 in 2008 in exchange for favorable decisions. Marchan's defense argued he was just loaning money to a friend.

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