May 28, 2004 – LAWFUEL – Marcos Daniel Jiménez, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Thomas W. Raffanello, Special Agent in Charge, the Drug Enforcement Administration; Brian J. Wimpling, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation; Jesus Torres, Special Agent in Charge, United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement; Jim Belz, Postal Inspector in Charge, Postal Inspection Service; and Robert Parker, Director, Miami-Dade Police Department, announced today that United States District Court Judge Patricia A. Seitz, has sentenced Juan Carlos Elso, a/k/a J.C. Elso, to 121 months’ imprisonment following Elso’s conviction on December 22, 2003, on two counts of conspiring to launder drug proceeds and one count of money laundering.
At Elso’s trial, prosecutors presented evidence showing how Elso, a Miami criminal defense attorney, used his position as a lawyer to facilitate his clients’ money laundering activities. Part of the evidence presented at trial showed how on November 15, 2001, Elso removed $266,800 in cash drug proceeds from the floor safe of the residence of one of his cocaine trafficker clients in order to prevent law enforcement officers from discovering and seizing the cash. After officers attempted to stop Elso and pull him over, Elso fled and led police on a high-speed chase through main streets and side streets west of Little Havana. Elso’s attempt to flee failed, and officers successfully seized the cash from the trunk of his car.
At sentencing, Judge Seitz found that, in addition to the $266,800 in the trunk of his car, Elso was responsible for laundering of another $123,680, for a total of $390,480. Judge Seitz further found that as part of his conduct of conviction, Elso abused his position of trust as an attorney and obstructed justice by swearing to a false affidavit in a Dade County Circuit Court proceeding involving the forfeiture of the $266,800 in cash seized from the trunk of his car on November 15, 2001. As part of the sentence, Judge Seitz also ordered forfeiture of Elso’s interest in the $266,800 in cash.
Mr. Jiménez commended the investigative efforts of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Postal Inspection Service, the Miami-Dade Police Department, and the Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s Office. The case is being prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel Richard Gregorie and Assistant United States Attorney Michael Davis.