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« BAE Fined $79 Million By State Dept, Not Debarred | Main | Is Pharma Under Fire In Indonesia? »
Tuesday
May172011

Alleged Mastermind In Mexico Bribes Case Still Missing

Will he ever come back to help his wife, Angela Aguilar?

She's the Mexican citizen convicted last week in the Lindsey trial of conspiracy to launder money. When sentenced in LA  on August 12, she's facing up to 30 years in prison.

Last August, Aguilar, 56, was arrested in Houston. She's been held without bail ever since, at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles. Ten months behind bars, and facing more hard time.

Many think her husband put her there.

Enrique Faustino Aguilar Noriega, the Justice Department alleged, led her into the crimes she committed. She moved money that he used to bribe a government official in Mexico on behalf of Lindsey Manufacturing. 

Noriega, 56, who's presumed innocent unless convicted in a court of law, was charged with conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, four substantive FCPA violations, money laundering conspiracy, and money laundering. But he's a fugitive, apparently still in Mexico. 

Would his return to the U.S. to face charges, or to plead guilty, help his wife at sentencing? Prosecutors make all kinds of deals, and judges usually let them do it.

In a court order earlier this year denying Aguilar's motion for bail, the government said a reason she couldn't be free was because her husband had never come back from Mexico to answer the charges against him. The feds also suggested Aguilar's crimes were instigated by him.

The Court has also considered the fact that defendant’s husband remains a fugitive in Mexico and finds that defendant’s husband would likely exert undue influence over defendant to become a fugitive if she were allowed to return to Mexico. The record supports the conclusion that defendant was less culpable than her husband in the charged conspiracy and would be susceptible to such influence. Defendant’s husband would benefit from defendant’s fugitive status . . . . Therefore, the Court finds that this factor weighs in favor of the government.

In the first report of Aguilar's arrest in August last year, the Houston Chronicle carried remarks by her lawyer that apparently pointed the finger at her husband:

Defense attorney Michael Zweiback, of Los Angeles, accused the government of going after Gomez to pressure those they couldn't reach.

He said she had what appears to be a minor role that there was no proof she knew what was going on, let alone masterminded bribes.

"We are talking about the spouse of an individual the government wants," he said.

"All the nefarious activity the government alleges here appears to be done by some other individuals," he continued. "It clearly is an attempt to pressure others into believing this is a viable investigation."

After that, we asked if he'd come back to help his wife.

We're still asking.

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