A U.S. professor of international studies who co-wrote a book about organized crime and is an expert on money laundering and corruption in South America has been arrested for allegedly laundering millions of dollars.
Bruce Bagley of Coral Gables, Florida, was accused of helping to launder $3 million in dirty money from Venezuela while pocketing about 10% of the money—about $300,000.
The 73-year-old University of Miami professor is considered one of the foremost experts in his field. He is the co-author of “Drug Trafficking, Organized Crime, and Violence in the Americas Today,” published in 2015, among other books.
The academic previously worked as a consultant for the FBI, as well as the U.S. State Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and other federal agencies, according to his official biography.
He has repeatedly been invited to give evidence to Congress and as an expert in court and has been interviewed by numerous news organizations.
He popping up in a 1993 story in The Washington Post about cocaine trafficking in Panama as a “University of Miami money-laundering specialist.”
Reporters from outlets as The New York Times and NPR also sought out his thoughts on topics such as the U.S. government’s attempts to fight drug trafficking overseas and the January protests targeting Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.
And just hours before news broke of Bagley’s arrest, he was quoted as an expert in a PolitiFact story on the value of the drugs being trafficked over the U.S. border.
United States Attorney Geoffrey S Berman in New York said Bagley opened bank accounts specifically to launder money for corrupt foreigners, NPR reported.
“The funds Bagley was allegedly laundering were the proceeds of bribery and corruption, stolen from the citizens of Venezuela,” Berman said.
An indictment unsealed in Manhattan federal court said that from November 2017 until April, Bagley agreed to receive about 14 monthly deposits of hundreds of thousands of dollars from bank accounts in Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.
It said Bagley believed the funds generated through public works projects in Venezuela were derived from graft and corruption.
According to the indictment, Bagley transferred the majority of the money into the bank accounts of a co-conspirator to conceal the nature, source, and ownership of the funds.
He faces a charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering and two money laundering charges. He could be jailed for up to 20 years if convicted.
“About the only lesson to be learned from Prof Bagley today is that involving oneself in public corruption, bribery, and embezzlement schemes is going to lead to an indictment,” William F Sweeney Jr, the head of the FBI’s New York office, said in a statement.
A statement from the University of Miami said that Bagley, who was due to teach a class on drug trafficking, has been placed on administrative leave.
Bagley was arrested by the FBI on Monday, Nov. 18, and was released on bail of $300,000 after appearing at Miami federal court.
“I’m feeling just fine. Not guilty. That’s how I’m feeling. They’ve got it all wrong,” Bagley told CBS Miami.
His attorney, Daniel Forman, told the Herald that he plans to “diligently defend” the case in court and fully expects that Bagley will be vindicated.