Former D.E.A. Agent Sentenced to 12 Years in Drug Money Scheme

What a holy mess! A Federal D.E.A. Agent who drags his wife into the scheme. Now both go to prison for 12 years and 5 years respectively, leaving behind two young daughters for who knows what kind of damage they’ll suffer for losing both their parents. It is all about his choices. Now he says: 

“Unfortunately, there came a time when I made a decision that went against the person who I was, that damaged my wife and embarrassed my country,” Mr. Irizarry said, according to The A.P. “I should’ve known better and I didn’t. I failed.”

But why? Why did he fail when all around him he saw criminals being caught and punished? And seeing all that, with two young kids he decides to jump in himself? I would bet there were many times when he spoke the words “What Goes Around Comes Around” about other people. Now other people are saying that about him! 

I feel bad for his wife, but most of all for his children. This will change the trajectory of their lives in a big way and its not likely to be a good one! 

I wish he had read my book. I’d like to think it may have deterred him. Perhaps wishful thinking, but I hope not

Former D.E.A. Agent Sentenced to 12 Years in Drug Money Scheme

Jose Ismael Irizarry took part in a seven-year scheme that used proceeds from drug investigations to buy jewelry, cars and a house in Colombia, prosecutors said.

Jose Irizarry, center, a former Drug Enforcement Administration special agent, was sentenced on Thursday after he pleaded guilty in September.
Credit…Chris O’Meara/Associated Press

A former special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration was sentenced to more than 12 years in prison on Thursday after he pleaded guilty to taking part in a wide-ranging conspiracy that used cash seized in undercover drug operations to buy jewelry, cars and a house in Colombia, prosecutors said.

The former agent, Jose Ismael Irizarry, 47, and his wife, Nathalia Gomez-Irizarry, pleaded guilty in September to charges that they carried out a seven-year scheme to funnel more than $9 million from undercover drug investigations into bank accounts that they and their co-conspirators controlled.

One of those co-conspirators was the leader of a Colombian drug-trafficking organization who became godfather to Mr. Irizarry’s children, according to federal prosecutors in Tampa, Fla.

Mr. Irizarry pleaded guilty to charges that included conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, honest services wire fraud, bank fraud, and conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

Ms. Gomez-Irizarry pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. She was sentenced in December 2020 to 60 months of probation and ordered to forfeit a Tiffany diamond ring, according to the U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General.

Mr. Irizarry, who had worked for the D.E.A. in Miami, Cartagena, Colombia, and Washington before he resigned in 2018, was arrested in February 2020 along with Ms. Gomez-Irizarry near their home in San Juan, P.R.

In a 19-count indictment, Mr. Irizarry was accused of engaging in a “corrupt scheme” while he was assigned to investigate money laundering by drug-trafficking organizations. The indictment accused Mr. Irizarry of “enriching himself by secretly using his position and his special access to information to divert drug proceeds from D.E.A. control to the control of himself and his co-conspirators.”

One co-conspirator was identified in the indictment as a public official in Colombia, who prosecutors said had used drug money to buy a $329,000 Lamborghini Huracán Spyder from a Miami car dealership.

Mr. Irizarry was accused of using drug money to buy a Land Rover and a home in Cartagena. Prosecutors said that Mr. Irizarry had admitted that he began exploiting his position as a federal agent to enrich himself and his co-conspirators soon after he filed for bankruptcy in 2010.

The indictment described a sprawling scheme in which Mr. Irizarry filed false reports on investigations, prompting a ripple effect that caused his colleagues at the Drug Enforcement Administration to falsely document the details of wire transfers, unwittingly concealing the source of drug profits that he controlled.

Ms. Gomez-Irizarry was accused of running a shell company out of the couple’s home in Miramar, Fla., that had no employees and sold no goods but was used to take in and distribute the money her husband collected, the indictment said.

“Former Special Agent Irizarry abused the trust of the American people when he repeatedly violated his oath as a federal law enforcement officer,” Anne Milgram, the D.E.A. administrator, said in a statement on Thursday. “Bringing him to justice reflects the principles of those who faithfully serve and uphold the values of D.E.A.”

At his sentencing in federal court in Tampa, Mr. Irizarry wept and said that his biggest punishment was not being able to explain to his two young daughters why he would be gone for so long, The Associated Press reported. He said he had been proud when he became a federal agent two decades ago.

“Unfortunately, there came a time when I made a decision that went against the person who I was, that damaged my wife and embarrassed my country,” Mr. Irizarry said, according to The A.P. “I should’ve known better and I didn’t. I failed.”

Mr. Irizarry’s sentencing came after another former special agent with the D.E.A., Chad Allan Scott, was sentenced in August to more than 13 years in prison after he perjured himself and directed others to commit perjury to obtain a conviction against an accused drug dealer, prosecutors said. Mr. Scott also falsified forms so that he could take possession of a truck that a drug dealer bought for him, prosecutors said.

Mr. Irizarry’s lawyer, Maria A. Dominguez, blamed the culture at the D.E.A. for encouraging such crimes.

“Jose was not a leader or the author of this conduct,” she said in an interview on Thursday. “It was conduct that he encountered when he first joined the D.E.A. He was corrupted in that sort of environment, which disrupted his moral compass.”

While sentencing Mr. Irizarry, Judge Charlene Honeywell condemned the D.E.A. for its failings and said other agents corrupted by “the allure of easy money” should be investigated, The A.P. reported.

“This has to stop,” Judge Honeywell said, according to The A.P. “You were the one who got caught, but it is apparent to this court that there are others.”

Kirkus Reviews, the gold-standard for independent & accurate reviews, has this to say about

What Goes Around Comes Around:

A stable, positive, non preachy, objective voice makes the book stand apart from others in the genre. A successful guide that uses anecdotes to reveal powerful truths about life.

~ Kirkus Reviews

“The author gives readers not just points or principles to ponder, but real human experiences that demonstrate them!
Kirkus Reviews
Buy What Goes Around at Amazon

“I’ve read a number of books that focus on sharing a similar message, including “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne, “The Answer” by John Assaraf & Murray Smith, “The Celestine Prophecy” by James Redfield, “Think and Grow Rich,” by Napoleon Hill, and I must say that I find Rob’s to be my favorite. – Sheryl Woodhouse, founder of Livelihood Matters LLC

Former D.E.A. Agent Sentenced to 12 Years in Drug Money Scheme

Former D.E.A. Agent Sentenced to 12 Years in Drug Money Scheme

Here’s a case of “Group malfeasance, blamed on poor judgement, from the consumption of too much wine!” A nine month investigation of the American chapter of “The Court of Master Sommeliers” has revealed a widespread expectation/demand of sexual favors in return for mentoring female applicants, undergoing the rigorous exam process, required for membership and recognition as an official Sommellier. 

This follows the complaint of 21 women that their supposed mentors, had pressured them for sex, apparently a well-established condition with a long history. So far 22 men have been investigated. 

The point being, that when a lowly activity becomes “institutionalized” in a grouping of people, ie: company, sport, union, association, religion, etc, it can go on undetected for a long time. It may even acquire an almost “accepted as part of the game” kind of cover, with those participating considering it, “just one of their perks”, and no big deal! That is, until someone blows the lid off.

That’s when everything changes for those who took part. It is not after all, that they didn’t know there was something amiss about the game they were playing. They just thought they had a really good cover! Instead, that cover just went poof, as all covers eventually do. Just another example that, “What Goes Around Comes Around!” Its just difficult to predict when. 

Colombo Family Crime Boss and 12 Others Are Arrested, Prosecutors Say

An indictment unsealed on Tuesday accuses the organization of orchestrating a two-decade scheme to extort a labor union.

Credit…Jesse Ward


For two decades, the leadership of the Colombo crime family extorted a Queens labor union, federal prosecutors said — an effort that continued unabated even as members of the mob clan cycled through prison, the family’s notorious longtime boss died, and as federal law enforcement closed in.

Over time, what began as a Colombo captain’s shakedown of a union leader, complete with expletive-laced threats of violence, expanded into a cottage industry, prosecutors said, as the Colombo organization assumed control of contracting and union business, with side operations in phony construction certificates, marijuana trafficking and loan-sharking.

On Tuesday, 11 reputed members and associates of the Colombo crime family, including the mob clan’s entire leadership, were charged in a labor racketeering case brought by the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn.

All but two of the men were arrested Tuesday morning across New York and New Jersey, prosecutors said. Another was surrendered to the authorities on Tuesday; another defendant, identified as the family consigliere, remained at large, prosecutors said.

The indictment accuses the Colombo family of orchestrating a two-decade scheme to extort an unnamed labor union that represented construction workers, using threats of violence to secure payments and arrange contracts that would benefit the crime family.

The charges are an ambitious effort by the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to take down one of the city’s five Mafia families. In addition to the union extortion scheme, which is the heart of the racketeering charge, the indictment charges several misdeeds often associated with the mob, including drug trafficking, money laundering, loan-sharking and falsifying federal labor safety paperwork.

Detention hearings for the defendants in Brooklyn federal court continued into the evening Tuesday, as they entered not-guilty pleas to the charges; prosecutors had asked the court to keep 10 of the defendants in custody.

“Everything we allege in this investigation proves history does indeed repeat itself,” Michael J. Driscoll, F.B.I. assistant director-in-charge, said in a statement. “The underbelly of the crime families in New York City is alive and well.”

Around 2001, prosecutors said, Vincent Ricciardo — a reported captain in the family, also known as “Vinny Unions” — began to demand a portion of a senior labor union official’s salary. When Mr. Ricciardo was convicted and imprisoned on federal racketeering charges in the mid-2000s, prosecutors said, his cousin continued to collect those payments.

Starting in late 2019, prosecutors said, the senior leadership of the Colombo family became directly involved in the shakedown, which extended to broader efforts to siphon money from the union: for example, manipulating the selection of union health fund vendors to contract with entities connected to the family, and diverting more than $10,000 each month from the fund to the family.

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Andrew Russo, 87, who prosecutors describe as the family boss, is accused of taking part in those efforts, as well as a money-laundering scheme to send the proceeds of the union extortion through intermediaries to Colombo associates. He was among nine defendants charged with racketeering.

Mr. Russo appeared in court virtually from the hospital Tuesday; he is set to be detained upon his release, pending a future bail hearing.

The family’s infamous longtime boss, Carmine J. Persico, died in federal custody in North Carolina in March 2019.

Federal law enforcement learned of the extortion scheme about a year ago, prosecutors wrote in a court filing Tuesday; investigators gathered thousands of hours of wiretapped calls and conversations recorded by a confidential witness, wrote the prosecutors, who also described law-enforcement surveillance of meetings among the accused conspirators.

The authorities said they repeatedly captured Mr. Ricciardo and his associates threatening to kill the union official. “I’ll put him in the ground right in front of his wife and kids,” Mr. Ricciardo was recorded saying in June.

On another occasion cited by prosecutors in the memo seeking his detention, Mr. Ricciardo directed the union official to hire a consultant selected by the Colombo family, saying: “It’s my union and that’s it.” Prosecutors said his activities were overseen by a Colombo soldier and the consigliere who remains at large.

Much of the activity outlined in the indictment took place while the defendants were either in prison or on supervised release for prior federal mob-related convictions. Theodore Persico Jr., described as a family captain and soldier, was released from federal prison in 2020 and, despite a directive not to associate with members of organized crime, “directed much of the labor racketeering scheme,” prosecutors said.

Mr. Persico, 58, is set to inherit the role of boss after Mr. Russo, prosecutors wrote.

Several of the defendants were named in what prosecutors described as a fraudulent safety training scheme, in which they falsified state and federal paperwork that is required for construction workers to show they have completed safety training courses.

One of the defendants, John Ragano — whom prosecutors say is a soldier in the Bonanno crime family — is accused of setting up phony occupational safety training schools in New York, which prosecutors said were “mills” that provided fraudulent safety training certificates to hundreds of people.

In October 2020, prosecutors said, an undercover law enforcement officer visited one of the schools in Ozone Park, Queens, and received, from Mr. Ricciardo’s cousin, a blank test form and an answer sheet; weeks later, the agent returned to pick up his federal safety card and paid $500.

The purported schools were also used for meetings with members of La Cosa Nostra — the group of crime families commonly known as the Mafia — and to store illegal drugs and fireworks, according to the indictment.

Mr. Ragano wasn’t charged on the racketeering count, although prosecutors also sought his detention pending trial. In addition to the racketeering count, several defendants, including Mr. Ricciardo and his cousin, were charged with extortion, conspiracy, fraud and conspiracy to make false statements.

William K. Rashbaum contributed reporting.


An earlier version of this article misstated the number of people identified in an indictment as members of the Colombo crime family. It is 11, not more than a dozen.