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‘DWI Dude’ lawyer convicted of drug trafficker scam

SHERMAN, Texas (AP) – A Texas lawyer known as “DWI Dude” has been sentenced to more than 15 years in federal prison for falsely promising Colombian drug traffickers that their charges will be reduced or dismissed in exchange for ‘money, prosecutors said. .

Jamie Balagia, 65, was sentenced Monday to 188 months in federal prison. He was convicted after a two-week trial in 2019 of conspiracy to commit money laundering, obstruction of justice, violation of the Kingpin Act, conspiracy to commit electronic fraud and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

According to federal prosecutors, Balagia conspired with a private investigator in Florida and a lawyer in Colombia to defraud Colombian drug traffickers to pay “attorney fees” for acting as intermediaries with representatives of the United States. government who they say would accept bribes to dismiss criminal charges or reduce prison terms.

There was no bribe or government official.

“The evidence in this case showed that Balagia had been shaking his clients for years by claiming that he was able to buy advantageous deals from prosecutors and judges,” Acting US Attorney Nicholas Ganjei said.

Defense lawyer Gaylon Riddels had requested a probation for his client, claiming that Balagia was “homeless, destitute and broken”, the Dallas Morning News reported.

Balagia’s two co-defendants in the case have previously pleaded guilty and are serving federal prison sentences.

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