Five Foreign Nationals Indicted for Being Illegal Agents for Venezuela
by Jim Kouri, CPP
Four Venezuelans and an Uruguayan national were charged on December 20 by a federal grand jury on charges of acting and conspiring to act as agents of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela ("Venezuela") within the United States, without prior notification to the Attorney General of the United States, as required by law.
R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Kenneth L. Wainstein, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, and Jonathan I. Solomon, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Field Office announced the indictments at a press conference in Miami on December 20.
Charged in the latest Indictment, which supersedes the complaint previously filed, were defendants Moises Maionica, 36, Antonio Jose Canchica Gomez, 37, Rodolfo Wanseele Paciello, 40, Franklin Duran, 40, and Carlos Kauffmann, 35. All were previously arrested on a criminal complaint, except for defendant Antonio Jose Canchica Gomez, who remains at large. Maionica, Duran and Kauffmann were ordered detained pending trial, and Wanseele's bond is being appealed by the government.
If convicted, the defendants face a statutory maximum penalty of ten (10) years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. The defendants will be arraigned on the Indictment on Friday, December 28, 2007 before the duty Magistrate Judge.
The Indictment alleges that the defendants coordinated and participated in a series of meetings, beginning in August 2007, in South Florida with Guido Alejandro Antonini Wilson to procure Antonini's help in concealing the source of an intended $800,000 cash contribution to the political campaign of a candidate in the recent Argentine presidential election of October 28, 2007. The last meeting took place on December 11, 2007, when defendants Maionica, Duran, and another individual met with Antonini to discuss the creation of false documents in furtherance of the cover-up.
According to documents filed in the case, including the complaint affidavit and Indictment, the events culminating in these charges began on August 4, 2007, when Antonini flew by Cessna Citation, bearing registration number N5113S, from Venezuela to Aeroparque Jorge Newbery in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The privately chartered aircraft had previously departed from Caracas Maiquetía International Airport in Venezuela, carrying eight passengers on board, including, among others, Guido Alejandro Antonini Wilson. Upon arrival at Buenos Aires, Argentine Customs Service inspected the luggage offloaded from the Cessna Citation, and found approximately $800,000 in United States currency in luggage being carried by Guido Alejandro Antonini Wilson. The Argentine authorities seized the money and Antonini returned to his South Florida home.
The Indictment alleges that beginning in mid-August, 2007 and continuing through December 11, 2007, the defendants and other participants in the conspiracy, acting as agents of the government of Venezuela, sought to obtain the assistance of Guido Alejandro Antonini Wilson, a US citizen who travels under both United States and Venezuelan passports, in concealing from the people of Argentina and others, the source and destination and the role of the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in the attempted delivery of the approximately $800,000.
During these meetings, the defendants told Antonini that various high-ranking Venezuelan government officials, including from the Office of the Vice President of the Republic, members of the DISIP (Intelligence and Preventive Services Directorate), and a high-ranking official from the Justice Ministry of Venezuela, were aware of this matter. The defendants told Antonini that these funds had been destined for the campaign of a candidate in the Argentine presidential election of October 28, 2007.
Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for its work in this investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Thomas J. Mulvihill and Senior Trial Attorney Clifford I. Rones, of the Counterespionage Section at the Justice Department's National Security Division.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.