Investigators traced at least four bulk cash payments, ranging from $70,000 to $120,000 to Balagia, who admitted that he had picked the cash up in a shopping bag at a mall parking lot in Katy, Texas.

“We live in a country with the greatest system of justice in the world,” Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas Ganjei said in a statement.

“That system, however, cannot function when officers of the court are corrupt. The evidence in this case demonstrated that Balagia had been shaking down his clients for years by claiming that he was able to purchase favorable deals from prosecutors and judges alike. The Department of Justice will defend our Justice system vigorously and will prosecute predatory lawyers like Balagia every single time they are discovered.”

Balagia’s co-conspirators have already been found guilty and sentenced: Perea pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 84 months in federal prison on June 29, 2018 and Chuck Morgan pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 72 months in federal prison on March 8, 2018.