A Texas attorney known as the “DWI Dude” has been sentenced to federal prison for 16 years for his part in scamming Colombian drug traffickers out of $1.5 million.
Jamie Balagia, 65, of Collin County, was found guilty of “conspiring with a Florida private investigator and Colombian attorney in 2014, to swindle Colombian drug traffickers under the guise of bribing officials in the United States,” local ABC News stations reported.
Balaga was part of a group of people who claimed that in exchange for inflated “attorney fees,” they would bribe government officials “resulting in either the dismissal of their criminal charges or significant reductions in their US federal prison sentences. In reality, there were no bribes or government officials,” the station reports.
“We live in a country with the greatest system of justice in the world,” Acting US Attorney Nicholas Ganjei told ABC.
“That system, however, cannot function when officers of the court are corrupt. The evidence in this case demonstrated that Balagia had been shaking down his clients for years by claiming that he was able to purchase favorable deals from prosecutors and judges alike. The Department of Justice will defend our Justice system vigorously and will prosecute predatory lawyers like Balagia every single time they are discovered.”