Carnegie Mellon University classmates shocked by Delgado money laundering charges
Former Carnegie Mellon University trustee Marco Antonio Delgado will head to trial on charges that he laundered $600 million for the Milenio Mexican drug cartel — a development one of his classmates finds shocking.
David Loesser, president of The Estate Planners Group in Eastern Pennsylvania, is enrolled this fall with Delgado in Carnegie Mellon's executive MBA program. He said Delgado's arrest set off a flurry of emails among classmates.
“It's flabbergasting. He's a good guy. He's very kind and generous. He's very articulate. He's been a good contributor in the class,” Loesser said.
A federal district magistrate judge in El Paso ordered Delgado held without bail on Wednesday until his trial in the money laundering scheme. A judge is expected to set his trial date on Dec. 7.
Judge Norbert Garney rejected Delgado's petition for bail, agreeing with prosecutors that Delgado, an El Paso lawyer who faces up to 20 years in prison, may have assets hidden abroad and has contacts overseas that make him a flight risk.
Delgado, 46, pleaded not guilty. His lawyers did not return calls for comment on Wednesday. One of them, Ray Velarde, said in court that he would appeal the bond ruling.
Homeland Security Agent Joshua Fry testified that Delgado kept bank accounts in the Turks and Caicos Islands in the Caribbean and received money from accounts in Switzerland. Fry testified that witnesses told him that Delgado traveled to Cuba for sex with underage girls.
Loesser said he and Delgado are among 16 international and six U.S. students in Carnegie Mellon's program in wealth and asset management. The classmates got to know each other during five two-week classroom sessions over the past two years.
The university offers the program to midcareer professionals in fields such as banking and asset management. Carnegie Mellon officials confirmed Delgado is enrolled in the program the university offers with the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, but he declined to comment. Officials at Lausanne did not return calls.
Tuition for the 20-month program, which includes 12 weeks of classroom time in Pittsburgh and Lausanne, is $80,000, not including travel and housing.
Loesser said Delgado does not fit stereotypes commonly associated with drug dealers.
“People like Marco. When he meets people, they just like him. He'd be a good politician. I hope (prosecutors) have their facts wrong,” Loesser said.
Loesser said Delgado described himself as a lawyer who represents corporate executives and leaders. He said Delgado is knowledgeable about law and the oil and gas industry.
The Tribune-Review learned Delgado traveled to Switzerland on multiple occasions in the past two years as a student with the university program.
A 1990 graduate of Carnegie Mellon's master in management and public policy program, Delgado gave the university $250,000 in 2003 to endow a graduate fellowship. He later served on the Dean's Advisory Council.
Prosecutors in El Paso told Garney that Delgado conspired to launder drug profits from July 2007 through December 2008. More recently, they alleged, he participated in financial transactions believed to be connected to organized crime.
Delgado's resume came under question after his Nov. 2 arrest. Officials in the administration of Mexican President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto have disputed Delgado's claim that he worked on Peña Nieto's campaign and was part of the transition team.
A database search for an energy company Delgado said he heads revealed the company name was reserved briefly in 2005 but expired without further action.
Carnegie Mellon officials said Delgado provided the information in his biography. They removed it, along with a photo of Delgado with the executive MBA class, from the school's website.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Debra Erdley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7996 or firstname.lastname@example.org.