SHERMAN, Texas — The lawyer known as the "DWI Dude" in San Antonio has been found guilty of five federal charges Tuesday.
James Balagia, 62, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit money laundering; obstruction of justice, violation of the Kingpin Act; conspiracy to commit wire fraud; and conspiracy to obstruct justice.
In a press release, federal authorities say Balagia was involved, along with two others, in a scheme to convince Colombian drug traffickers that they were paying bribes to officials. The release says the group told the drug traffickers the bribes would be used to get government officials to dismiss criminal charges or lessen prison sentences. In reality, there were no bribes or government officials, according to authorities.
“The defendant used his position as an attorney to not only steal from drug lords, but also to sell out the U.S. justice system in order to line his own pockets,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Matthew J. DeSarno of the Dallas Field Office. “The FBI prioritizes all cases of public corruption and we will continue to hold these officials accountable for using their positions to benefit financially.”
The release also says Balagia conspired with Florida private investigator, Chuck Morgan, and Colombian attorney, Bibiana Correa Perrea. Balagia faces up to 30 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not been scheduled.
Balagia has a law practice in San Antonio and Manor specializing in clients charged with driving while intoxicated.