EL PASO, Texas (AP) – A West Texas lawyer and former Carnegie Mellon University trustee was found guilty Monday of conspiring to launder hundreds of millions of dollars in drug money for a Mexican cartel.
Marco Antonio Delgado was accused of devising a scheme to launder up to $600 million for the now-disbanded Milenio cartel from 2007 to 2008.
During the weeklong trial, prosecutors presented recorded phone calls from Delgado to other members of the conspiracy and testimony by federal agents and Victor Pimentel, a former associate of Delgado’s.
Delgado took the stand Thursday and told jurors that federal agents lied and misrepresented facts or oversimplified matters in his case.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents have previously testified that after Delgado was arrested in 2007 with $1 million, he confessed and agreed to cooperate. After his initial arrest, court records show, he confessed the money was part of a “trial run” in what agents say was a money-laundering operation.
But agents said Delgado continued moving drug money behind his handlers’ backs, including picking up $50,000 in Chicago in the summer of 2008.
Delgado testified he didn’t know that any of the money was connected to drug trafficking and didn’t learn about its true origin until he was re-arrested in 2012.
“I never discussed a $600 million amount with any ICE agent,” he told prosecutors Thursday.
Delgado also told jurors that he believed the $1 million was part of an inheritance from wealthy Mexican citizens who wanted to hide the money from relatives or extortionists.
Delgado’s defense team has claimed that associates of Lilian De La Concha, the ex-wife of Mexico’s former president Vicente Fox Quesada, had asked him to help move the funds associated with the inheritance and the construction companies.
The prosecution presented emails and recorded phone calls between Delgado and De La Concha, in which she agreed to relay messages between Delgado and a man known as Chuy, who federal agents say was the contact for the drug trafficking organization.
While the scheme was in play, De La Concha and Delgado were romantically involved, witnesses have testified. De La Concha was divorced by then, and Fox had already left office.
At the time of his arrest, Delgado had given a $250,000 endowment for a scholarship named after him to assist Hispanic students, the Carnegie Mellon University website said. He also was a regular contributor to the El Paso Symphony Orchestra and a member of a local educational foundation.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)