Oklahoma residents may have been surprised when federal prosecutors announced that a University of Miami professor had been charged with laundering money. The case is unusual because the professor wrote a book about organized crime and corruption in South America and is a recognized money laundering expert. The money the professor is accused of laundering proceeded from bribery and corruption in Venezuela according to the U.S. attorneys prosecuting the case.

According to court documents unsealed on Nov. 18, the professor has been charged with multiple counts of money laundering and a single count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Prosecutors say that he kept 10% of the approximately $200,000 he withdrew from U.S. bank accounts each month as a fee. The rest of the funds were handed over to an individual who is not named in court papers. Prosecutors believe that the professor knew the money he was allegedly laundering came from official corruption in Venezuela.

The money was transferred to the United Sates from banks in the United Arab Emirates and Switzerland. Prosecutors say the accounts were controlled by a Colombian national. The professor faces up to 60 years in a federal prison if he is convicted on all counts. The University of Miami has announced that he is taking administrative leave while the case is being litigated. The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Money Laundering Investigation Squad.

Even nonviolent offenders convicted of committing federal crimes can face harsh penalties, but U.S. attorneys are often willing to recommend far more lenient sentences in return for a guilty plea. When negotiating with federal prosecutors, experienced criminal defense attorneys may argue that a reduced sentence should be considered based on mitigating factors such as sincere remorse and a previously unblemished criminal record.

Source: The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, Professor Of International Studies Charged In International Money Laundering Scheme, Press release, Nov. 18, 2019