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Former Honor Student Found Guilty Drugs, Money Laundering

  1. sassyspy
    A former Foss High School honor student found guilty of drug and money laundering by a Nicaraguan court last month was sentenced Tuesday to 22 years in prison.

    The judge gave Jason Puracal, 33, seven years for money laundering, 10 years for international transport of drugs and five years for participating in organized crime.

    The Nicaraguan National Police arrested Puracal on Nov. 11 at his office in San Juan del Sur. He was arrested along with 10 Nicaraguan nationals. Prosecutors alleged he was an “adviser” to people involved in drug trafficking who were investing in real estate.

    Puracal was convicted after a six-day trial and faced from 23 to 30 years in prison.

    His family continues to insist he is innocent. They say the charges against him were politically motivated and the trial was unfair.
    “The trial process was replete with violations of Nicaraguan law and failed to meet even minimum standards of due process and fairness,” Anna Tolin, one of Puracal’s attorneys, said after the sentence was announced.

    Puracal’s arrest and conviction have drawn international attention. U.S. Rep Adam Smith, D-Tacoma, has spoken out in Puracal’s behalf and criticized the Nicaraguan justice system.

    A sentencing document issued Tuesday by the Nicaraguan court states Puracal used his real estate brokerage to launder drug money.
    Puracal and his family are appealing.

    They believe his arrest and conviction were due in part to a misunderstanding of the escrow process in real estate, in which large sums of money are held in trust for buyers and sellers of land.

    After graduating from the University of Washington, Puracal joined the Peace Corps in 2002 and later became a real estate broker in Nicaragua.




  1. sassyspy
    I have a follow-up story as well, will post soon.
  2. sassyspy
    Family Fights to free Brother Sentenced to 22 Years Nicaragua Prison

    Jason Puracal was sentenced to 22 years in prison in Nicaragua. Now, his family has asked the U.S. Government for help. They plan to rally outside the Paramount Theatre this Sunday, where President Obama will be speaking.

    “You can`t put an innocent man in prison or take away his entire life,” said Janis Puracal, Jason’s younger sister.

    Puracal was arrested for international drug trafficking, money laundering, and organized crime. Recently, he was convicted and sentenced to 22 years behind bars. His sisters say the charges are bogus.

    “Most people that go there are aware of their government system, the corruption and that possibility, but you never expect it to happen to you,” said Jaime, the youngest sibling.

    Janis said the prosecution didn’t have any evidence that Jason had done anything wrong. And the prosecution’s key witness had no idea what an “escrow account” was.

    “Their theory at trial was there was money coming into the account, and money coming out of account, they aren`t recognizing the account was an escrow account for Remax, money for Remax clients buying property, which was held in the trust,” said Janis.

    And while the family plans an appeal, the sisters said they are seriously upset over their brother’s living conditions.

    Puracal is allowed only two visits a month to see his son and wife. Most recently he was recuperating from severe burns he got when trying to boil water, with a make-shift device.

    “The prison doesn`t have clean water, all the water contaminated with parasites, causes all the prisoners to get sick. They have to boil their own water or buy it at the prison store, and the prison store always runs out,” said Janis.
    It has been a nightmare for the past 10 months, but the family refuses to give up.

    “Our biggest grounds for appeal is the fact that this judge is not a judge, not even a licensed attorney, just one appointed by their government to convict in this case,” said Janice. “He’s 29 years old, never even been in a court setting before.”

    President Obama will be making a visit to Seattle this Sunday, September 25 .

    Kirsten Joyce
    Q13 FOX News reporter

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