Miami-Defendant Moises Maionica, 36, one of five foreign nationals accused of acting and conspiring to act as an agent of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (“Venezuela”) within the United States without prior notification to the Attorney General of the United States, pled guilty this morning before U.S. District Court Judge Joan Lenard, announced R. Alexander Acosta, U.S. 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. Sentencing has been scheduled for April 4, 2008, at 3:00p.m. before Judge Lenard.
The case against co-defendants Antonio Jose Canchica Gomez, 37, Rodolfo Wanseele Paciello, 40, Franklin Duran, 40, and Carlos Kauffmann, 35, is still pending. Trial is currently scheduled for March 17, 2008.
According to the Indictment and Maionica's proffer filed with the court, 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 a cover-up of the facts surrounding $800,000 in cash that was seized in Argentina after being transported from Venezuela. Unbeknownst to the conspirators, Antonini was wearing recording equipment provided by the FBI. Special Agents of the FBI also conducted surveillance of the meeting. 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, the events culminating in this prosecution 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. Mr. Antonini Wilson was carrying the suitcase at the request of one of the other passengers. Mr. Antonini was unaware that $800,000 was in the suitcase, as the suitcase belonged to one of the other passengers. 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 U.S. citizen who travels under both United States and Venezuelan passports, in concealing the source and destination of the funds in the attempted delivery of the approximately $800,000.
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.