Florida Professor, a Corruption Expert, Is Sentenced for Money Laundering

Bruce Bagley is a famous skilled on crime and corruption in Latin America, writing books on the subject and serving as a go-to individual for journalists.

But on the identical time, prosecutors mentioned, Dr. Bagley, a retired University of Miami professor, was himself concerned in a bribery and corruption scheme in Venezuela.

On Tuesday, Dr. Bagley, 75 and sick, was sentenced by a federal choose in Manhattan to 6 months in jail for money laundering.

“I am ashamed of my irresponsible behavior,” Dr. Bagley mentioned through Zoom earlier than Judge Jed Rakoff of U.S. District Court in Manhattan, in line with The Associated Press. “I have spent my life as an academic working to understand and improve conditions in many countries in Latin America, and to be here today is the greatest departure from the life that I have aspired to.”

Dr. Bagley, a former worldwide research professor, used financial institution accounts in his title and that of a company he created in Florida to launder about $2.5 million, protecting a fee for himself, prosecutors mentioned. They mentioned that he had personally reaped $192,000 from November 2017 to September 2018 as a part of the scheme, including that the money was “stolen from the citizens of Venezuela.” Dr. Bagley pleaded responsible in June 2020 to 2 counts of money laundering, prosecutors said.

Peter Quijano, a lawyer for Dr. Bagley, declined to remark Tuesday. In courtroom papers this month, he argued for no jail time and a sentence of time served, noting that the nonviolent crime was his shopper’s first legal conviction, that Dr. Bagley was sick, and that he had an in any other case distinguished career as a professor and mentor.

Mr. Quijano additionally mentioned that Dr. Bagley had already suffered “severe collateral consequences” as a results of his conviction: irreparable hurt to his career and status and the stress that affected his spouse earlier than her dying this year. Mr. Quijano described Dr. Bagley as unfailingly dedicated to his spouse.

“He is overwhelmed by dark thoughts that his arrest, in fact, hastened her death,” Mr. Quijano wrote in a sentencing memorandum.

Prosecutors had argued for a sentence beneath tips of 46 to 57 months, however didn’t specify precisely how a lot decrease. In courtroom papers this month, prosecutors mentioned that though Dr. Bagley’s age and well being needs to be considered, some incarceration was essential to function a deterrent.

In courtroom on Tuesday, Judge Rakoff mentioned that a sentence of as much as 5 years, as advisable by federal tips, could be “irrational” and “overly punitive,” in line with The A.P. But like prosecutors, the choose mentioned some incarceration was wanted. The choose advisable that Dr. Bagley’s sentence be served in a medical facility, in line with a Justice Department spokesman.

According to prosecutors, Dr. Bagley opened a checking account in Florida beneath his company’s title, Bagley Consultants, in 2016. But there was hardly any exercise within the account till a year later, when he began receiving massive deposits from financial institution accounts within the United Arab Emirates and in Switzerland.

Those accounts ostensibly belonged to a meals company and a wealth administration agency however have been truly managed by a Colombian nationwide whose money got here from “the proceeds of foreign bribery and embezzlement stolen from the Venezuelan people,” in line with an indictment.

Dr. Bagley knew the supply of the money and entered into “multiple sham contracts” to be able to conceal it, in line with the indictment.

After every deposit, Dr. Bagley would go to his financial institution and get a cashier’s verify for about 90 % of the money, which he would then give to a different particular person, and wire the remaining to his personal checking account, the indictment mentioned.

In October 2018, the financial institution closed the company’s account due to suspicious exercise, in line with the indictment. But Dr. Bagley opened one other account in his title that December and continued the scheme till April 2019, receiving no less than 14 unlawful deposits, prosecutors say.

Though Dr. Bagley lives in Florida and the laundered funds have been despatched to Florida banks, prosecutors mentioned they have been prosecuting the case in Manhattan as a result of the money handed by means of New York City because it got here from overseas.

Prosecutors mentioned a distinguished Columbian businessman, Alex Saab, was additionally concerned within the scheme. Mr. Saab, often known as a monetary fixer for President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, was extradited final month by the United States to face money laundering charges on American soil, his lawyer mentioned, making him one of many highest-ranking supporters of Mr. Maduro to be taken into American custody.

Dr. Bagley has studied organized crime in Latin America for a long time and has been printed incessantly on the topic. He edited an educational e book launched in 2015 titled “Drug Trafficking, Organized Crime, and Violence in the Americas Today.” Another e book he edited, on the relationship between countries and organized crime, was launched in 2019.

Over the years, he has been quoted quite a few occasions in media experiences about drug trafficking, together with in articles in The New York Times in regards to the worldwide drug commerce and tales from NPR in regards to the ongoing political disaster in Venezuela.

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