Juan Carlos Seresi convicted of money laundering cocaine cartel cash in 1991 He was sentenced to 505 years after being found guilty of the crime
A man who was sentenced to 505 years behind bars for money laundering is to be released immediately after serving just 31 years of his five century sentence.
Juan Carlos Seresi’s release date was July 8, 2419 but a Los Angeles District Judge has ordered his release ‘without delay’ and his sentence cut to time served.
Seresi, 73, was one of four defendants who were sentenced to 505 years after being convicted for money laundering cocaine cartel cash.
The draconian sentences, which saw the men serving more than 2,000 years between them, was noted as being harsh even when they were handed out in 1991, but U.S. District Court Judge Stephen V. Wilson has ordered Seresi to be freed ‘without delay’
Once out, Seresi will be subject to a three-year term of supervised release, according to Wilson’s order.
‘It’s a miracle,’ Seresi said after hearing the news from his daughter, Patti Mawer, 46, who spoke told CNN.
Seresi was not directly involved in the cocaine distribution and had no prior criminal records but several appeals that were launched over the decades were all rejected. He kept in touch with his daughter and grand children, whom he is pictured with here
‘After all this praying and all this hoping, he can’t believe it,’ she added.
She told the network how despite her father being behind bars since she was a teen, he had still managed to remain an integral part of her family’s life memorizing grandkids’ birthdays.
In August, upon reviewing the case, Judge Wilson denied a request by prosecutors to overturn the men’s convictions ‘in the interests of justice’, but he did launch a months-long review into the matter.
It was found that special treatment was given to a government witness by FBI agents which was not disclosed to the defense at the time of the trial.
Meanwhile, Seresi’s attorneys filed a motion looking for him to be released on compassionate grounds listing his age, high blood pressure and susceptibility to coronavirus as factors.
Seresi was serving his sentence at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles, California
Judge Wilson noted that individually, the factors did not entitle him to early release but combined, they amounted to ‘extraordinary and compelling reasons’ for granting his freedom.
Furthermore, Seresi had been convicted of a nonviolent offense and had earned three associate degrees during the more than 30 years he had been behind bars.
‘The Court’s findings should not be construed to minimize the severity of the Defendant’s conduct,’ Judge Wilson wrote adding that Seresi was ‘a key employee of the ringleaders of a substantial money laundering conspiracy.’
‘We are so happy for Juan Carlos and his beautiful family,’ said Reuven Cohen, one of Seresi’s lawyers, whose firm took the case on a pro bono basis.
Seresi was convicted of helping to launder more than $300 million in drug cartel money through their precious metal and money exchange companies along with brothers Vahe and Nazareth Andonian and Raul Vivas.
Brothers Vahe, left and Nazareth Andonian, right were also given 500 year jail sentences but it is thought they their cases will now also be looked at and will likely be released
Seresi worked for Raul Vivas who was also convicted and jailed for five centuries as well as being fined $7.6 million
The men had appealed their sentences several times throughout the decades but each time their appeal was rejected.
Seresi was even considered to be the least culpable of the defendants although none of the four were directly involved in the enormous cocaine distribution ring at the center of the case.
The crux of the appeal which led to Seresi’s conviction being overturned came after it emerged how special treatment was given to Sergio Hochman, a key government witness.
Hochman was a co-conspirator in the case but managed to cut a deal early on with the government and only served five years and eight months. He was released after three years in 1994.
He was also allowed luxuries such as seaside lunches without handcuffs in Malibu and even allowed to visit his wife in her car and also at her apartment in Arizona.
Although the benefits were not revealed to the defense at the time, prosecutors confirmed the information and decided that the information was damaging enough to warrant throwing out the case.
Judge Wilson launched said that Hochman’s testimony had been ‘helpful’ to the prosecution’s case but ‘not critical.’
‘It’s not enough that the government’s case would be slightly weaker without Hochman,’ he wrote.
It could now mean the two Andonion brothers in the case who also did not have criminal records, might be considered for early release early given the circumstances.
‘They’re essentially around the same age. They’ve spent 31 years in prison without one incident. They’ve taken every educational course they could get their hands on,’ said Attorney Jerry Newton, who represents Vahe Andonian. ‘It’s a fair and just result to let them enjoy the remainder of their lives outside of prison.’