A Cuban businessman charged with laundering $238 million in illicit Medicare payments through South Florida will have to face trial now that a federal judge has rejected his motion to dismiss a massive money laundering case against him.
The motion by Jorge Emilio Perez de Morales to dismiss the indictment was highly unusual because the 52-year-old is considered a fugitive after fleeing to Spain.
Through his Miami defense attorney, the absent Perez asked a magistrate judge to throw out the case, claiming he was running a legitimate remittance company outside the United States so he couldn’t have committed a crime.
But this month, Magistrate Judge Patrick Hunt denied his motion, saying the U.S. money-laundering conspiracy charge filed five years ago extends beyond the boundaries of this country because the alleged offense happened here.
“If he wishes to contest the charges in this case, [Perez] will have to first submit to the court’s jurisdiction,” Hunt wrote in a nine-page ruling. “If he would like to go to trial, the door to the federal court, as always, remains open.”
Perez’s attorney, Stephen Golembe, has until Friday to appeal the judge’s ruling. It came in response to an unusual hearing in March, when the judge, Golembe and federal prosecutor Ron Davidson debated whether Perez is a fugitive — a thorny legal issue arising from the fact that he has yet to be arrested on the money-laundering conspiracy charge. His lawyer said he isn’t; the prosecutor said he is.