The wife of a coin trader who laundering $ 136 MILLION for Colombian cartel bosses – including Pablo Escobar – from her husband's Park Avenue store is sentenced to repay the full amount
- Stephen and Donna Saccoccia were convicted of money laundering in the 1990s
- Donna – who was released in 2004 – had filed an application to transfer her liability for $ 136 million
- But a judge in Rhode Island ruled that the repayment order still applied to her
The wife of a coin trader who has laundered $ 136 million for Colombian drug cartels has been ordered to repay the full amount to the US government.
Stephen and Donna Saccoccia were convicted of money laundering in the 1990s when prosecutors accused them of cooperating with gangs, including Pablo Escobar's Medellin cartel.
After their arrest, authorities took millions of dollars in gold bars, jewelry, and cash from Stephen & # 39; s Park Avenue coin shop.
Donna, who was released from prison in 2004, had filed an application to evade her $ 136 million liability.
But federal judge William E. Smith ruled at a court in Rhode Island that the repayment order still applied to her, the Providence Journal reported.
Launderers: Stephen and Donna Saccoccia, pictured in a prison visit room in 2005, were convicted of laundering $ 136 million for Colombian drug cartels
Guilty: Stephen and Donna Saccoccia left the federal courthouse in Providence in 1992. Stephen was imprisoned for 660 years while Donna was released in 2004
Who were the Cali and Medellin cartels?
During their trial in the 1990s, Stephen and Donna Saccoccia were accused of money laundering for the Cali and Medellin drug gangs in Colombia.
The Medellin cartel, named after the city where it originated, was founded by Pablo Escobar in the 1970s.
Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar
Drug agents believed that the Medellin gang was responsible for 80 percent of US cocaine imports at the height of its powers.
The city of Medellin was once called the most dangerous in the world, with thousands of people killed in violence released by the Medellin gang.
The magazine Forbes estimated Escobar's personal fortune at around $ 3 billion.
The group eventually collapsed after Escobar reported to the authorities in 1991, escaped again the following year and was finally killed in 1993.
The Cali cartel was a separate group that broke away from the Escobar gang in the early 1980s.
Founded by two brothers, Miguel and Giblerto Rodríguez Orejuela, the gang was a rival to the Medellin cartel and competition between the two fueled the violence of the 1980s and 1990s.
Most of the gang leaders were arrested in the 1990s and the two founders are both in American prison.
The original judge, Ernest C. Torres, had discovered that Donna & # 39; deep & # 39; was involved in her husband's crimes, Smith argued.
Stephen and Donna Saccoccia and their co-conspirators, including Donna & # 39; s brother Vincent Hurley, were jointly and severally liable for the $ 136 million.
& # 39; So there is no legal value to their argument that the conviction decisions against Donna and (another) should be lifted because they were based on joint and several liability & # 39 ;, Smith said.
The couple was arrested in November 1991 in Geneva, Switzerland and extradited to the US to face the charges.
Prosecutors accused them of laundering money for the Medellin cocaine cartel founded by Pablo Escobar in the 1970s.
At one point, the drug gang was responsible for up to 80 percent of cocaine imports into the United States, federal agents believed.
Escobar surrendered to the authorities in 1991, but escaped from custody and remained on the run until he was murdered in 1993.
In addition, the Saccoccias were convicted of laundering money from the Cali cartel, a separate group from the Medellin gang of Escobar.
Stephen Saccoccia was sentenced to a prison sentence of 660 years and remains in custody in the Coleman I prison near Wildwood, Florida.
The money laundering leader has a fictional release date of October 17, 2567.
Stephen had previously tried to recover millions of dollars in gold bars and jewelry seized at his arrest in 1991.
They include dozens of gold bars buried in the couple's back yard and valuables stored in lockers in Europe.
Saccoccia had argued that he had legally obtained part of the assets seized, but his application was rejected in the same way earlier this year.
He also applied for compassionate release, insisting that his crimes were not violent and that he had been a model prisoner.
Federal prosecutors opposed the request and said that Saccoccia, 61, was not old and weak enough to warrant an early release.
For five years, Saccoccia helped insure the financial success of a violent drug cartel, the lawyers argued.
Prosecutors said at the time that he had conspired with another metal trader to clean the medicine money by using it for gold purchases.
Donna Saccoccia was sentenced to 14 years in prison and was released in 2004.
Confiscated: After their arrest, authorities seized millions of dollars in gold bars (photo), jewelery, and cash at Stephen's # 39; s Park Avenue coin shop
. (TagsToTranslate) Dailymail (t) news