Monday, November 03, 2008

Conviction in suitcase-gate

After extremely lengthy deliberations, the jury convicted Franklin Duran today. Congratulations to Tom Mulvihill. Here's the intro to Curt Anderson's AP article:

A federal jury convicted a wealthy Venezuelan Monday of acting as an illegal foreign agent who came to the U.S. to cover up a Latin American political scandal involving a cash-stuffed suitcase smuggled into Argentina.Jurors deliberated seven days -- at one point indicating they were hopelessly deadlocked -- before finding Franklin Duran, 41, guilty of foreign agent and conspiracy charges. He faces up to 15 years in prison.Duran, dressed in a dark suit, stared straight ahead and showed no emotion when the verdict was announced. U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard set sentencing for Jan. 12.Prosecutors said during the eight-week trial that Duran and other South American men came to Miami on orders of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to ensure the silence of a man who carried a suitcase filled with $800,000 into Argentina in 2007. The U.S. said the money was a secret political donation to the campaign of Argentina's president.
Duran attorney Ed Shohat contended his client was entrapped by the FBI and came to Miami only to help a friend and protect business interests. Shohat vowed Monday to appeal, calling the trial ``a political circus'' orchestrated by the U.S. to embarrass Chavez and his allies.``Franklin Duran is a pawn of the U.S. government,'' Shohat said. ``We're going to continue this fight.''Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Mulvihill rejected that description of the case, which has been the subject of relentless media coverage across Latin America.``This was not a political trial. We don't engage in those,'' Mulvihill said.

No comments: