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Miami Professor Jailed for Laundering Stolen Venezuela Funds

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A retired professor from the University of Miami has been sentenced to six months in prison in New York for being involved in a Venezuelan bribery and money laundering scheme. 

Bruce Bagley, 75, pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges of laundering more than $2 million that has been stolen from Venezuela. Ironically, the defendant had been an international studies professor who advised the US government about drug trafficking and organized crime in Latin America. 

“I am ashamed of my irresponsible behavior,” said Badgley in court. “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.” 

Venezuelan Ties

A Manhattan federal judge found Badgley guilty of receiving $2.5 million of embezzled funds on behalf of Alex Saab, a businessman and ally of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. Saab faces similar money laundering charges in Florida. 

“If there is anyone in the world who knew that this kind of activity was criminal it was Dr. Bagley,” said Judge Jed Rakoff.

Attention to the case increased when Badley’s legal representatives disclosed that Saab provided information about Maduro’s socialist government to US law enforcement. Reuters also divulged that Saab was a key intermediary for Caracas to “get around US sanctions before his June 2020 arrest in Cape Verde.”

Badgley reportedly received commissions of $200,000 a month, but he later clarified that the money was used to pay for lawyers who were advising Saab regarding his involvement with US authorities.

The former UMiami professor’s attorneys pleaded for the court to consider his age and health, possibly moving incarceration out of the list of consequences. However, prosecutors argued that Badgley has not shown serious remorse over his actions. The judge agreed though that it will be irrational to give him the maximum sentence of five years.

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