A federal judge put a uniquely Miami spin on the $20 million shopping spree of convicted money launderer Álvaro López Tardón before sending the accused Spanish drug kingpin to prison for 150 years on Monday.
“I call it funny money, and we have a plethora of funny money here,” U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard declared, as she described López Tardón's use of cocaine proceeds from Spain to purchase exotic cars and waterfront condos. “Miami is replete with people who utilize illegal funds and live a luxurious, unbelievable lifestyle.”
Before Monday's final sentencing, Lenard had conducted a series of hearings in which she spoke about shadowy characters like López Tardón who hang out in sunny places like South Florida. During those hearings, a federal prosecutor and defense attorneys debated the relative harm that the 39-year-old Spaniard actually did to the community by blowing drug money made in Spain on high-priced cars, condos, jewelry and watches in Miami.
In June, López Tardón was found guilty of a single conspiracy charge that carried up to 20 years in prison and guilty of 13 money-laundering charges that carried up to 10 years each. Under sentencing guidelines, the judge had the authority to craft a prison term that effectively added up to life in prison for the Spaniard.
Meantime, Judge Altonaga sentenced a pimp to 29 years in prison:
A Miami federal judge did not believe Damion St. Patrick Baston told the truth when he took the witness stand in his sex-trafficking trial this summer. She also did not detect any sense of guilt or remorse after the jury convicted him.
At his sentencing hearing on Monday, U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga said Baston has a “deviant” and “delusional” personality with a “warped sense of reality.”
Despite her low opinion of the 37-year-old Jamaican, the judge refused to give him a maximum life sentence, instead sending Baston to prison for 27 years. The judge said that, although the trial evidence proved Baston repeatedly victimized young women in the sex trade from Australia to Dubai to Miami, he didn’t kill anyone and, therefore, a “sentence of life would not provide just punishment.”
What do you all think about these very long sentences after trial? What would they have gotten had they pleaded guilty?
Meantime, down the street, there is a big push to get a new civil courthouse. It's obviously needed. Judge Soto looks great in the ad, while the courthouse looks just awful: