Despite efforts by his defense team to delay the start of his trial, U.S. District Judge Frank Montalvo has ruled District Clerk Gilbert Sanchez competent of standing trial.
Prosecutors have charged Sanchez with taking bribes in exchange for steering a contract during a bidding process. Local attorney, and former El Paso politician, Luther Jones, is Sanchez’s co-defendant in the case. Both have pleaded not guilty.
Defense attorneys recently asked Montalvo to delay the start of the trial because their client was in poor health, under stress from managing his office, and in the midst of a political battle to keep his office.
Sanchez, who oversees a department with more than 100 employees and a $6 million budget, is trying to hold off Norma Favela. In March’s Democratic Primary, Sanchez won with 29 percent of the vote. But Favela received 26 percent of the vote and forced a runoff election.
If Sanchez wins the runoff, he will retain his office because no Republican is running for the office in the November 2010 elections. However, if Sanchez were to be convicted on the corruption charges, he would automatically be removed from office.
Sanchez claimed he is mentally stable, but is suffering from a serious heart condition and Lupus. When his defense team filed the request to delay the trial, Montalvo ordered Sanchez to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.
At the time, Sanchez explained his situation to ABC-7. “I’m fighting for my life now, literally my livelihood, I’m making sure that I can put food on the table,” he said, “I’m praying to God that I don’t go to jail.”
According to Sanchez, the trial will start on June 21, 2010.