Nov. 27 (UPI) -- A federal court in West Palm Beach, Fla., sentenced on Tuesday former Venezuelan Treasurer, Alejandro Andrade, to a decade in prison for laundering $1 billion in bribe money through Florida investments including real estate.
Andrade, 54, posted a $1 million bond and will not have to enter prison until the last week of February, according to a report Tuesday by the Miami Herald.
According to a separate report Tuesday by Venezuela's El Nacional newspaper, Andrade said during the sentencing that he made decisions that were "incorrect." "I have a big respect for the United States and fully accept the consequences of my acts," Andrade said, according to El Nacional.
He also said that he cooperated with authorities after entering the United States with a special permit in 2014, according to El Nacional.
He is cooperating with U.S. authorities as he helps build a case against rich Venezuelans including television network owner Raul Gorrin and others, the Herald reported.
A report from April in The Palm Beach Post said Andrade, who started out as bodyguard for former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, had lived since 2012 in a 9,000-square-foot home in Palm Beach County. Aside from the property, with marble floors and a swimming pool, he owned some 60 horses. His son is an Olympic equestrian who hangs out with U.S. celebrities, the report added.
Andrade was treasurer of Venezuela between 2007 and 2010 and profited from giving favorable rates to some of the country's richer people in exchange for bribes, the Herald reported.
U.S. authorities allowed Andrade to remain on the property until mid-November, when it was seized along with over a dozen purebred horses. Authorities also seized a fleet of luxury vehicles, as well as U.S. and Swiss bank accounts, the Herald reported.
The West Palm Beach case is separate from another $1.2-billion money laundering case filed in July in South Florida where nine defendants, some close to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, are accused of stealing money from the Venezuelan state oil company to invest it in posh condos and waterfront houses in Miami.
The lavish lifestyle of Andrade and the defendants is in sharp contrast with the current situation for most Venezuelans. Three million people have left the country in recent years to escape a long economic and political crisis. In September, the president of Ecuador said at the United Nations that Venezuelan children are arriving with diseases.
Chavez was first elected president of Venezuela in 1998, when he offered to fight corruption and work for the poorer in the country. He was re-elected in 2000, 2006 and 2012. He died of cancer at 58 in March 2013. Before his death, he said that Maduro was his choice to continue the work he had started.
Maduro has led the country since 2013.