Prosecutors had been seeking a much stiffer sentence against Gustavo Hernandez Frieri, arguing that he had misled them about his assets and business dealings after pleading guilty in 2019 to a single count of conspiring to launder money.
But Judge Kathleen Williams late Friday found that Hernandez’s role in the conspiracy didn’t justify the nearly 10-year sentence prosecutors were seeking since he had no involvement in the original bribery scheme.
She did, however, scold Hernandez for undermining the pledge he made as part of his plea deal to assist prosecutors in locating and forfeiting $12 million in assets — the equivalent of the amount that he managed on behalf of a corrupt executive at oil giant PDVSA.
Hernandez is only the second individual sentenced as part of Operation Money Flight, a major investigation into how businessmen bribed officials in President Nicolas Maduro’s government to siphon billions from PDVSA through bogus currency deals.
Proceeds from the overall scheme were funneled through shell companies and bank accounts in Switzerland, Malta and Hong Kong before being hidden in luxury real estate in Miami, Spain and elsewhere.
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