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Thursday, May 30, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Venezuelan Agent Convicted of Spying

MIAMI (CN) - A federal jury convicted Franklin Duran of acting as an agent for Venezuela in a plot to deliver $800,000 in cash to the political campaign of Argentine presidential candidate Christina Fernandez de Kirchner.

"This is not the first time that unregistered foreign agents have sought to do their nations' bidding in our backyard, in disregard of our laws and our sovereignty," U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta stated.

In December 2007, Duran, 41, along with co-defendants Moises Maionica, 36; Antonio J. Gomez, 37; Rodolfo W. Paciello, 41; and Carlos Kauffmann, 36 were charged in a two-Count indictment for their participation in a series of meetings in South Florida.

Those meetings were held at the direction of Venezuelan government officials, according to the evidence, including officials from the Office of the Vice President of the Republic, members of the DISIP (Intelligence and Preventive Services Directorate), and a high-ranking official from the Justice Ministry of Venezuela.

After one week of deliberation, the jury returned a guilty verdict on Monday afternoon. Outside the courthouse, when asked what he thought of the week it took the jurors to come to a decision, the prosecutor on the case, Assistant United States Attorney Thomas J. Mulvihill said, "They exercised their responsibility and took their responsibility seriously."

Duran's sentencing is scheduled for January 12, 2009. He faces a possible sentence of 15 years in rison on convictions based on his actions as an unregistered foreign agent.

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