Venezuelans Get Sentences Reduced In $60M Bribery Scheme

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Carolina Bolado

Law360 (October 14, 2020, 4:19 PM EDT) — A Florida federal judge signed off Tuesday on prosecutors’ request to reduce by nearly two years the sentences of two Venezuelan nationals who were convicted in a conspiracy to move about $60 million in bribes to officials at Venezuela’s national electricity company, acknowledging the pair’s cooperation in securing other convictions.

U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga agreed to reduce the 51-month sentences for Luis Alberto Chacin Haddad and Jesus Ramon Veroes to 30 months because of their cooperation with the government, as they provided detailed information about how the bribes were facilitated and how the money was laundered that led to the indictment of two other individuals.

But she rejected their requests to reduce their sentences further because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Chacin, who is 55 and has a history of hepatitis B, is at increased risk of complications from the coronavirus and suggested that he could have his sentence reduced to about 16 months of home confinement. Veroes, 70, has already had COVID-19, and he made a similar request, citing “increased evidence of so-called COVID ‘long-haulers'” who deal with lingering health problems months after infection.

But the court noted that their original 51-month sentences were already below the advisory guidelines range, and the reduction requested by the government was consistent with the level of cooperation Chacin and Veroes gave.