Hidalgo County constable candidate arrested on money laundering charge

Feb. 14, 2012 at 9 p.m.
Updated Feb. 13, 2012 at 8:14 p.m.

A Hidalgo County political candidate was arrested on Monday near Victoria and charged with money laundering.

A Department of Public Safety trooper stopped a Chrysler 200 U.S. Highway 59 South at Midway Road on suspicion of speeding and driving on the shoulder, according to the arrest report.

The driver, Robert Ricardo Maldonado, 46, of Mercedes, is also a former Department of Public Safety trooper and sheriff's deputy, according to a story in The Monitor in McAllen.

The driver appeared nervous, gave the troopers contradictory statements about his travel plans so the troopers asked to search the vehicle, according to the arrest report.

Maldonado would not consent to a vehicle search, so the troopers called for a drug-sniffing dog to sniff the vehicle.

When they searched the vehicle they found 108 bundles of cash concealed inside the luggage in the trunk. The money was wrapped in a manner that was consistent with drug trafficking, according to the arrest report.

Maldonado was arrested and taken to the Victoria County Jail where he was charged with money laundering more than $200,000.

Maldonado is a candidate for the Democratic Party nominee for Hidalgo County Constable Precinct 1, according to his campaign website.

He ran for the same seat in 2008, but lost. He is one of two candidates who filed in December to run against the incumbent, Celestino Avila, according to The Monitor's story.

A DPS spokeswoman confirmed Maldonado was fired as a state trooper after facing charges of aggravated assault in 1994, according to the Monitor.

The charges were eventually dismissed and his law enforcement license never suspended.

Maldonado worked as narcotics officer for the Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office for four years before resigning in August 2007. His sheriff's office personnel file gave no reason for his resignation, according to the Monitor.



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