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Luther Jones, Gilbert Sanchez sentenced in public corruption case

Former El Paso County Judge Luther Jones and former District Clerk Gilbert Sanchez will have to pay restitution after their latest corruption convictions.

But they’ll probably only serve only a few months because their sentences will run concurrently with the terms they are already serving.

U.S.District Court Judge Frank Montalvo passed the sentence Friday afternoon regarding Jones and Sanchez involvement in helping steer a Ysleta Independent School District contract to Access HealthSource.

Montalvo sentenced Sanchez to pay $5,000 in restitution. He ordered Jones to return Tuesday with a detailed list of all his assets before deciding how much restitution he must pay.

“The harm is done. I’m trying to repair what has been done. The only repair is dollars to Ysleta,” Montalvo told the court.

Jones told the court, “I apologize to you and the court and the people of El Paso, and to Ysleta ISD’s employees and students for my conduct. I’ve had time to reflect profoundly and deeply. I’m sorry and ashamed. I hope what happened to me is a flashing red beacon for others to learn from. I hope in time, my life will be judged in its totality and not just these circumstances.”

Earlier this year, Jones and Sanchez pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and deprivation of right to honest services.

By pleading guilty, Jones and Sanchez admitted that from September 2003 until 2007, they conspired with others to secure by means of fraud and bribery a multi-million dollar healthcare services contract between YISD and Access Healthsource, Inc.

Prosecuting Assistant U.S. Attorney Debra Kanof told Montalvo,”Jones wrote letters, threatened people’s jobs if they didn’t reconsider Access. Then, Jones billed for his assistance. He previously had been council for YISD. He knew what he was doing, he had deliberate disregard. If he had not done his political deeds, Blue Shield would have won and Ysleta wouldn’t have lost money.”

Jones and Sanchez are the first of ten defendants charged in this indictment who have entered guilty pleas to be sentenced. Jury selection for the remaining defendant, Guillermo “Willie” Gandara, Sr., is scheduled for September 4, 2012.

On August 15, 2011, Jones and Sanchez were each sentenced to six years in federal prison for conspiring with others in a scheme to secure a multi-million dollar document imaging contract between El Paso County and one of Luther Jones’ clients.

Jones was a prominent El Pasoan in his heyday. He was a private attorney and well-connected politician, weilding power from three different offices. As a state representative in the 1970’s, Jones fought so that property-poor school districts could have more access to funds. He worked to get the Open Records Act and Open Meetings Acts passed, and to strengthen campaign finance disclosure laws.

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