NEW YORK (AP) — A Florida professor of international studies who co-wrote a book about organized crime was arrested Monday on federal charges that he laundered corruption proceeds from Venezuela.
Bruce Bagley, 73, of Coral Gables, Florida, was freed on $300,000 bail after an appearance in Miami federal court.
The University of Miami professor faces conspiracy to commit money laundering and two money laundering charges. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison. A message seeking comment was left with his attorney and with Bagley.
The attorney, Daniel Forman, told the Miami Herald that they planned to “diligently defend his case.”
“We’re confident at the end of the day he’s going to be vindicated,” Forman told the newspaper.
Bagley is co-author of “Drug Trafficking, Organized Crime and Violence in the Americas Today,” published in 2015, among other books, and has testified before Congress and as an expert in court and been interviewed by numerous news organizations including The Associated Press.
William F. Sweeney Jr., head of the FBI’s New York office, said in a release that Bagley profited by helping others launder the proceeds of their crimes.
“About the only lesson to be learned from Professor Bagley today is that involving oneself in public corruption, bribery, and embezzlement schemes is going to lead to an indictment,” he said.
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman in New York said Bagley opened bank accounts specifically to launder money for corrupt foreigners.
“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 through April, Bagley agreed to receive about 14 deposits from bank accounts in Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates totaling $3 million.
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.
Authorities said Bagley kept a 10% commission for himself from the money he laundered.
The University of Miami said in a statement that Bagley was placed on administrative leave.
“As this is a personal matter in an ongoing investigation, the University has no further comment at this time,” the school said.