Author: Gillian Tobin
SHERMAN, Texas – A Sherman lawyer known as “DWI Dude” faces more than 15 years in federal prison for falsely promising to expunge Columbian drug cartel members’ charges, prosecutors said.
Jamie Balagia, 65, was sentenced Monday to 188 months in prison for conspiracy to commit money laundering, obstruction of justice, violation of the Kingpin Act, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and conspiracy to obstruct justice.
According to federal prosecutors, Balagia conspired with a Florida investigator and an attorney in Columbia to charge cartel members “lawyer fees” and falsely claimed to bribe government officials to expunge and reduce members’ charges.
No government officials were involved, and no charges were reduced or expunged.
Prosecutors said the “DWI Dude” had scammed nearly $1.5 million out of cartel members.
“Balagia had been shaking down his clients for years by claiming that he was able to purchase favorable deals from prosecutors and judges alike,” Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas Ganjei said.
Balagia’s two former co-conspirators are serving time in federal prison.