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Obituaries : U.S. Judge Robert Madden Hill; Sent Billy Sol Estes to Prison

October 22, 1987|From Times Wire Services

DALLAS — Federal Appellate Judge Robert Madden Hill, who presided over Billy Sol Estes' 1979 fraud and conspiracy trial while a district judge and who later was involved in bribery proceedings against former Texas governor and treasury secretary John B. Connally, has died aboard a flight from Africa.

Hill, 59, died Monday after an asthma attack as he and his wife, state Rep. Patricia Hill, were returning from vacation in Kenya, according to Carol Hallman, a spokeswoman for the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. The plane made an emergency landing in Iceland, Hallman said.

Hill presided over several high-profile cases as a U.S. district judge.

In 1979, Estes, a close associate of President Lyndon B. Johnson, was convicted of mail fraud and conspiracy to conceal his assets to avoid paying back taxes.

Hill sentenced the flamboyant West Texan, who had been convicted years before of a federal violation involving mortgages on non-existent fertilizer tanks, to the maximum 10 years in prison.

"I think Billie Sol used to send him Christmas cards from jail," said Dallas lawyer Marvin Wise, a longtime Hill associate. "It just shows how fair he (Hill) was."

In 1975 Hill upheld the federal government's deal to dismiss charges against a witness in exchange for testimony against Connally, who was acquitted of charges of taking illegal contributions from a lobbyist.

In a controversial 1980 decision, Hill allowed the children of illegal aliens to attend Dallas public schools.

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