CMU ex-trustee's money laundering trial begins

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Testimony began Monday in the federal trial in Texas of Marco Delgado, a former Carnegie Mellon University trustee charged with conspiring to launder millions of dollars for Mexican drug lords.

A second trial is set for next month on another indictment charging that Mr. Delgado, 46, stole $32 million from a Mexican utility by diverting it into his bank accounts in Pennsylvania, Texas and New Mexico.

Mr. Delgado, an El Paso energy attorney, 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. He served on the board of trustees from 2006 until last year.

But while he played the role of benevolent philanthropist at home, federal agents said he was working a deal to launder money for the Milenio cartel.

The investigation began Sept. 5, 2007, when state police pulled over a vehicle driven by Victor Pimentel, an associate of Mr. Delgado's, near Atlanta and seized $1 million in cash.

Mr. Pimentel cooperated and agreed to help federal agents make a controlled delivery.

After the delivery on Sept. 7, 2007, agents arrested Mr. Delgado. 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.

In pretrial motions last week, prosecutors gave notice that they intend to introduce additional testimony from a "cooperating witness" that the witness had posed as "Francisco Ruiz," a fictitious businessman created by Mr. Delgado in response to a suit brought by a client accusing Mr. Delgado of stealing his money.

"Delgado used the fictitious identity 'Francisco Ruiz' to launder funds stolen from his client, and then reused that same fictitious identity to commit the money laundering offense charged in the indictment," the U.S. attorney's office said.

In another filing, the U.S. attorney's office said it intends to introduce testimony from Mr. Delgado's former fiancee, also unnamed in court papers.

Mr. Delgado tried to block her testimony by claiming she is his wife and thus protected from being compelled to testify. But prosecutors said the two were never married.

The U.S. attorney's office said the woman is testifying of her own free will.

The woman and Mr. Pimentel are among 10 witnesses the government intends to call.


Torsten Ove: or 412-231-0132. First Published October 21, 2013 1:59 PM

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