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Former CMU trustee pleads not guilty to laundering drug cartel money

| Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012, 1:42 p.m.
Former Carnegie Mellon University trustee Marco Delgado, charged in a scheme to launder more than a half-billion dollars for a Mexican drug cartel, defrauded a Mexican utility of millions and used that money to underwrite a lavish lifestyle that included a $200,000 contribution to the university, federal authorities said. El Paso Times

A former Carnegie Mellon University trustee pleaded not guilty on Thursday to conspiring to launder $600 million for a Mexican drug cartel during a federal court hearing in El Paso.

As Marco Antonio Delgado returned to the El Paso County Jail to await a detention hearing that U.S. Magistrate Judge Norbert Garney scheduled for Nov. 14, questions arose about the professional business and political connections he led CMU and others to believe he had.

Delgado's lawyers, Ray Velarde and Jose Montes, did not return calls for comment. He is suspected of laundering $600 million between July 2007 and December 2008. The indictment does not specify which cartel was involved, but an ABC affiliate in El Paso identified it as the Milenio cartel. If convicted, Delgado could get 20 years in prison.

Until recently Delgado, 46, an El Paso lawyer who earned a master's degree at CMU in 1990, was featured on the university's website as a member of the Dean's Advisory Council at the Heinz School of Public Policy and Management. A biography on the website portrayed Delgado as the CEO of a multi-national energy corporation and the chairman of an investment partnership who was a member of the transition team for Mexico's President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto.

Eduardo Sanchez, a spokesman for the transition team, said it had never heard of Delgado and pointed to the group's website, which doesn't list Delgado as a member.

“Clearly this person is not part of the team,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez ruled out the possibility that Delgado could have served as an adviser to Pena Nieto or worked on or raised money for his campaign. As to why Delgado provided such information to the university, Sanchez speculated that in general, “Criminals normally say things that are not true.”

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review found that neither Delgado's purported investment partnership — The Baalbek Group LP — nor his supposed energy corporation is registered with the Texas Department of State. And the only mention of the energy company on a national database of corporations is an entry with the name Power Solutions of North American LLC that was reserved in October 2004 and expired in January 2005.

CMU spokesman Ken Walters said only that Delgado provided the information in the biography. “I wish it was someone else,” he said.

The university named a graduate fellowship for Hispanic students in public policy for Delgado and pledged $250,000 in matching funds to it after Delgado gave CMU $250,000 in 2003.

Debra Erdley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7996 or derdley@tribweb.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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