SAN FRANCISCO LAWFUEL – The Law Newswire – United States Attorney…

SAN FRANCISCO LAWFUEL – The Law Newswire – United States Attorney Scott N. Schools announced that Mario Azcarate pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of possessing cocaine with the intent to distribute and one count of money laundering. This guilty plea is the result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Marin County Major Crimes Task Force.

Mr. Azcarate, 59, formerly of San Anselmo, was indicted by a federal Grand Jury on May 27, 1993. He was charged with two counts of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine in violation of Title 21 U.S.C. § 846, two counts of possession with the intent to distribute cocaine and aiding and abetting in violation of Title 21 U.S.C. § 841 (a)(1)/Title 18 U.S.C. § 2 and eight counts of money laundering in violation of Title 18 U.S.C. § 1956 (a)(1)(B)(I). Under the plea agreement, Mr. Azcarate pled guilty to count three and count eight of the indictment.

In pleading guilty, Mr. Azcarate admitted that in 1991 at his home in San Anselmo, California, he knowingly possessed more that 500 grams of cocaine with the intent to deliver it to other people. He also admitted to using the proceeds from the sale of cocaine to make a mortgage payment on his home.

In August of 1992, Mr. Azcarate fled the United States to avoid cocaine possession charges filed against him by the State of California. In 2003 he was arrested and charged with money laundering in the United Kingdom. He later was convicted on that charge. In 2006 he was extradited to the United States.

The sentencing of Mr. Azcarate is scheduled for July 26, 2007, before U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White in San Francisco. Count three, charging Mr. Azcarate with possession with the intent to distribute cocaine, in violation of Title 21 U.S.C. § 841 (a)(1), carries a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 5 years and a maximum prison sentence of 40 years and a $2,000,000 fine. Count eight, charging Mr. Azcarate with money laundering, in violation of Title 18 U.S.C. § 1956 (a)(1)(B)(I), carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and a fine of $500,000 (or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction, whichever is greater). However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

Andrew Caputo is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Rawaty Yim. The prosecution is the result of a lengthy investigation by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Marin County Major Crimes Task Force.

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