A Honduran citizen pleaded guilty in federal court in Louisiana Thursday to laundering $1.3 million in bribe money, along with assets his brother looted from the Honduran Institute of Social Security.
Carlos Zelaya, 47, who was living in New Orleans at the time of the offenses, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, the DOJ said Thursday.
According to the plea agreement, Zelaya conspired with his brother to launder the money.
Zelaya’s brother is the former Executive Director of the Honduran Institute of Social Security, a public program that provides pensions and healthcare coverage to Honduran citizens.
The $1.3 million in bribes was paid by two Honduran businessmen to benefit Zelaya’s brother.
The bribe money was laundered in the United States using wire transfers and purchases of personal and commercial real estate.
According to the DOJ, Zelaya continued to collect and spend the rental income from the properties even after a federal judge ordered him to reserve the funds while waiting for the resolution of a pending federal civil forfeiture suit.
Zelaya also lied to investigators and a federal judge about the source of the funds used to buy New Orleans-area properties, the DOJ said.
He was arrested on May 1.
Zelaya already agreed to forfeit the properties as part of the plea agreement.
He’s scheduled to be sentenced on October 3.