A University of Miami professor who has pleaded guilty to US charges he helped launder funds from Venezuela on behalf of businessman Alex Saab has requested a lenient sentencing because of his ill health and advanced age, court records show.
Bruce Bagley, who studied drug trafficking and organized crime in Latin America as an academic, was arrested in November 2019 on charges he received $2.5 million in deposits from bank accounts in Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates that were embezzled from Venezuela, and that he retained a commission.
Manhattan federal prosecutors said in a Tuesday court filing that those funds came from overseas companies controlled by Saab, a Colombian businessman close to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro who was extradited to Miami last month on money laundering charges.
Bagley, 75, pleaded guilty in June of last year. His attorneys requested in a Tuesday filing that he be sentenced to time served.
“It is altogether reasonable to predict that he will never be a repeat offender,” his attorneys wrote.
Prosecutors said Bagley should be incarcerated, arguing he has not shown “serious remorse”, but nonetheless recommended a sentence below guidance of 46-57 months. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Nov. 16.
Saab’s lawyers have said he will plead not guilty to the US charges, and argue that Saab was a Venezuelan diplomat entitled to immunity.
His case has drawn attention because Saab has emerged in recent years as a key broker in helping Caracas bypass US sanctions to import goods. Washington labels Maduro a corrupt dictator who has violated human rights and overseen his nation’s economic collapse.
Maduro says the United States wants to oust him to control Venezuela’s oil reserves.
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