Haitian senator-elect sentenced to nine years in US prison for money laundering

Haitian senator-elect sentenced to nine years in US prison for money laundering

MIAMI, USA — On Wednesday, US District Judge Cecilia Altonaga of the Southern District of Florida, imposed a sentence of nine years in prison on Haitian senator-elect Guy Philippe, with an order for a money judgment in the amount of $1.5 million to follow, for money laundering offences in connection with an international narcotics scheme.

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Guy Philippe at an arraignment hearing in Miami in January

Under a plea agreement, Philippe avoided life imprisonment for drug trafficking and his lawyers described the sentence as a good compromise, with the most serious charges being dropped. Defence attorney Zeljka Bozanic said the agreement did not include the cooperation of his client targeting Haitian officials, contrary to a rumour circulating in Haiti, HaitiLibre reported.

Philippe, 49, was sentenced after having previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering stemming from his receipt of cash payments derived from the proceeds of narcotics sales that occurred in Miami, Florida, and elsewhere in the United States in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

According to admissions made in connection with the plea, beginning in the late 1990s, Philippe knowingly using his position as a high-ranking Haitian National Police officer to provide protection for the shipments of drugs and drug proceeds arriving into Haiti in exchange for cash payments.

Philippe admitted that from approximately June 1999 to April 2003, he received between $1.5 and $3.5 million in bribes from drug traffickers, knowing that the payments he received constituted proceeds of cocaine sales that occurred in Miami, Florida, and elsewhere in the United States.

Philippe also admitted that he shared a portion of these payments with Haitian National Police officials and other security personnel to ensure their continued support for future drug shipments arriving into Haiti. Philippe used these payments to purchase a residence in Broward County, Florida; and to support himself and to support his family in the United States.

In addition, Philippe wired proceeds derived from the sale of cocaine, in the amount of $376,000, from banks in Haiti and Ecuador to a joint bank account in Miami. To avoid detection, Philippe used the names of others to wire the funds to his account. Philippe further admitted that he arranged for over $70,000 in drug proceeds to be deposited into his account that were conducted in a series of deposits each less than $10,000 to avoid the US federal reporting requirements.

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