Closing arguments begin in cash suitcase trial

MIAMI (AP) -- U.S. prosecutors say a wealthy businessman was acting under the control of Venezuela's intelligence service to cover up the source of a suitcase stuffed with $800,000 discovered last year in Argentina.

Prosecutors made the claim Thursday in closing arguments in the Miami trial of 41-year-old Franklin Duran. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted of conspiracy and acting as an illegal Venezuelan agent in the U.S.

Prosecutor John Shipley said Duran and others wanted to hide the fact that Venezuelan cash was being smuggled to the campaign of new Argentine President Cristina Fernandez.

Duran's lawyer says he came to the U.S. to help a friend embroiled in the political scandal. Duran also claims he was entrapped by the FBI.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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