Trial to begin for ex-CMU trustee Delgado on charges of laundering money for Mexican drug cartel
May 13, 2013 7:42 PM
Rudy Gutierrez/El Paso Times
Homeland Security agents lead Mario Antonio Delgado, center, out of jail.
By Torsten Ove Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A former Carnegie Mellon University trustee, Marco Delgado, is set to stand trial next Monday in Texas on charges that he conspired to launder millions for a Mexican drug cartel.
The U.S. attorney's office in El Paso, where Mr. Delgado is a lawyer and philanthropist, anticipates it will take a week to present the government's case.
A status conference is set for today to discuss the admissibility of certain government evidence, including recordings, surveillance photos, transcripts, emails and business records.
Mr. Delgado is charged in two indictments in El Paso following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. In the first, he is accused of conspiring to launder $1 million for Mexican drug lords with the expectation that he would launder as much as $600 million in the future.
In the second case, he is accused of stealing millions in a scheme to divert money from a Mexican utility into his own accounts.
Mr. Delgado, a native of Mexico, earned a degree from CMU's Heinz School of Public Policy and Management in 1990 and gave the school a $250,000 gift in 2003 to establish a fellowship for Hispanic students.
Agents say Mr. Delgado, an energy attorney, helped FGG Enterprises of Carson City, Nev., secure a $121 million contract with the utility in 2009 to provide equipment and services for a power plant project in Agua Prieta on the Mexico-U.S. border in the state of Sonora.
The payments from the utility to FGG were supposed to go to an FGG account in El Paso, but Mr. Delgado is accused of directing the utility's bank to send the funds to his personal account in the Turks and Caicos islands. The grand jury said he diverted some $32 million to accounts he controlled in Pennsylvania, Texas and New Mexico and used it to support a lavish lifestyle, including his home, renovations to it and furnishings.
Federal prosecutors have moved to seize the house, several other properties, $2.5 million at a Caribbean bank and a couple of vehicles.
The investigation into Mr. Delgado's dealings began Sept. 5, 2007, when state troopers pulled over a vehicle driven by Victor Pimentel, an associate of Mr. Delgado's, outside Atlanta and seized $1 million in cash. Mr. Pimentel cooperated, identified Mr. Delgado as a co-conspirator and agreed to help federal agents make a controlled delivery.
Mr. Pimentel said Mr. Delgado had provided him with fake court papers indicating the money came from a legal settlement should he be stopped by police. But in recorded calls between Mr. Pimentel and Mr. Delgado, Mr. Delgado indicated that the money was from drug sales, according to federal prosecutors.
After the controlled delivery Sept. 7, 2007, Mr. Delgado was arrested and also agreed to cooperate. He and Mr. Pimentel both said the $1 million was part of a trial run in anticipation of moving up to $600 million for the Milenio cartel, prosecutors said.