The attorneys for an El Paso lawyer and former Carnegie Mellon
University trustee suspected of laundering millions for a drug cartel want to
delay next week's trial so a psychological evaluation can be done.
Marco Antonio Delgado is charged with conspiring to launder $1 million for Mexican drug lords and stealing millions of dollars from a Mexican utility company.
His trial is set to begin Monday.
During a status conference hearing on Tuesday, Delgado's lawyers, Ray Velarde and Richard Esper, asked U.S. District Judge David Briones for more time so Delgado could undergo a psychological evaluation.
"It has become increasingly clear to Mr. Esper and I that an evaluation is needed for Mr. Delgado," Velarde said
Briones was not happy with the request and said he usually does not grant continuances a week before trial.
"It better be a damn good motion, I'll tell you that," Briones told the lawyers. "We are all set to go to trial. You've had weeks to prepare and meet with your client."
Esper had recently been in Austin on another case, but Velarde said he has had difficulty with his client.
"I've had extensive time with Mr. Delgado and it's not enough," Velarde said before Briones interrupted again.
"Why did I suspect a motion would be made to hold the trial?" Briones asked. "File it under a seal if you have to, but it better be damn good. We are prepared for trial on Monday."
Assistant U.S. Attorney
Juanita Fielden said a plea agreement has been offered to Delgado, but the prosecution agreed an "evaluation would be beneficial."
"I don't know if this defendant comprehends how serious the charges are against him," Fielden said. "But we are prepared to go to trial."
During the hearing, Fielden said the U.S. Attorney's Office is prepared to enter IRS records, 49 audio recordings, one video and several emails sent to Delgado by an unindicted co-conspirator and forwarded to Victor Pimental, an associate of Delgado who is cooperating with federal investigators.
One email may contain information on the slaying of one of the co-conspirators because of the alleged action of Delgado, Fielden said.
Because there has not been a conviction, the information in the email might be redacted for the jury's viewing.
Fielden said the trial may take a week and the government is prepared to call seven witnesses, including a co-conspirator.
Velarde and Esper declined to comment after the hearing.
Delgado is an energy lawyer and a 1990 graduate of Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon's Heinz School of Public Policy and Management. In 2003, he gave the school a $250,000 gift to establish a fellowship for Hispanic students.
Agents say Delgado helped FGG Enterprises of Carson City, Nev., secure a $121 million contract with the utility in 2009 to provide equipment and services for a power plant project in Agua Prieta, Sonora, Mexico.
The payments from the utility to FGG were supposed to go to an FGG account in El Paso, but Delgado directed the utility's bank to send the money to his personal account in the Turks and Caicos islands, according to the indictment. The grand jury said he diverted about $32 million to accounts he controlled in Pennsylvania, Texas and New Mexico and used it to support a lavish lifestyle, including his home, renovations to it and furnishings.
Federal prosecutors have moved to seize the house, several other properties, $2.5 million in a Caribbean bank and a couple of vehicles.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette contributed to this report.
(c)2013 the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas)
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Distributed by MCT Information Services
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