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Press Release

Professor Of International Studies Pleads Guilty To Money Laundering

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York
Prof. Bruce Bagley Participated in the International Laundering of Over $2 Million Derived from Venezuelan Bribery and Corruption

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that BRUCE BAGLEY pled guilty today before U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff to two counts of money laundering.  BAGLEY used bank accounts in his name and in the name of a company he created in Florida to launder over $2 million in proceeds of a Venezuelan bribery and corruption scheme into the United States. 

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “Bruce Bagley, a college professor and author, went from writing the book on crime – literally writing a book on drug trafficking and organized crime – to committing crimes.  Professor Bagley admitted today to laundering money for corrupt foreign nationals – the proceeds of bribery and corruption, stolen from the citizens of Venezuela.  Bagley now faces the possibility of a long tenure in prison.”

According to the Indictment and other filings in the case:

In or about November 2016, BRUCE BAGLEY, a professor of international studies with publication credits including the book Drug Trafficking, Organized Crime, and Violence in the Americas Today, opened a bank account (“Account-1”) on behalf of a company (“Company-1”) that BAGLEY owned and controlled.  Between in or about November 2016 and in or about November 2017, Account-1 had minimal activity.  In or about November 2017, Account-1 began receiving monthly deposits of hundreds of thousands of dollars from bank accounts located in Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates (the “Overseas Accounts”).  Each month, BAGLEY would receive a deposit of approximately $200,000 from one of the Overseas Accounts into Account-1.  Thereafter, he would withdraw approximately 90 percent of the funds in the form of a cashier’s check, payable to an account held by another individual (“Individual-1”).  BAGLEY would send the remainder of the funds to his personal account.  Between in or about November 2017 and in or about October 2018, Account-1 received approximately $2.5 million from the Overseas Accounts. 

The Overseas Accounts belonged to a Colombian individual (“Individual-2”).  In or about December 2018, Individual-1 had a conversation with BAGLEY regarding the fact that BAGLEY was moving Individual-2’s funds into the United States and that the funds represented the proceeds of foreign bribery and embezzlement stolen from the Venezuelan people.  Nevertheless, in or about December 2018, BAGLEY created a new bank account (“Account-2”) in order to transfer additional money belonging to Individual-2.  BAGLEY continued to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Overseas Accounts after opening Account-2.  BAGLEY transferred the majority of these funds to Individual-1 but retained a commission for his services.

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BAGLEY, 73, of Coral Gables, Florida, pled guilty to two counts of money laundering, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

BAGLEY is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Rakoff on October 1, 2020, at 4:00 p.m.

Mr. Berman praised the work the FBI.  

The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s Money Laundering and Transnational Criminal Enterprises Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Thane Rehn and Sheb Swett are in charge of the prosecution.


Jim Margolin, Nicholas Biase
(212) 637-2600

Updated June 1, 2020

Financial Fraud
Foreign Corruption
Press Release Number: 20-118