Bonnie S. Klapper

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Bonnie S. Klapper
Born (1957-09-02) September 2, 1957 (age 57)
Brooklyn, New York
Alma mater University of California, Berkeley School of Law
Occupation Attorney

Bonnie S. Klapper (born September 2, 1957, Brooklyn, New York, United States) was an Assistant United States Attorney in both the Central District of California and the Eastern District of New York from January 1984 to February 2012. She is a member of the bar in the States of New York and California and is admitted to Federal District Court and the Court of Appeals in both districts.[1][2]

Education[edit]

Klapper earned a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1979, graduating magna cum laude. She received her law degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law in 1982, graduating Order of the Coif.[2]

Career[edit]

After law school, Klapper was a district court law clerk from 1982 to 1983 for the Honorable A. Wallace Tashima in the Central District of California. Upon completing her clerkship, Klapper joined the law firm of Tuttle & Taylor in Los Angeles, California, where she worked for two years in the litigation department working on complex civil litigation. In 1984, Klapper became an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Central District of California, where she specialized in narcotics money laundering investigations, prosecuting the first Title 31 structuring case in the country. In 1986, Klapper became an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of New York. She began in that office’s money laundering unit in Brooklyn, investigating and prosecuting both drug and non-drug money laundering cases. In 1989, Klapper moved to that office’s Long Island office, where she developed an expertise in money laundering and international narcotics trafficking cases. At that time, she worked with what was then the U.S custom service and the Immigration and Customs and the Internal Revenue Service to help found the El Dorado Task Force, a multi-agency task force set up to combat narcotics money laundering frequently lauded as a model of interagency cooperation. In 2006, Klapper was asked to return to the Brooklyn office to become one of the founding members of the International Drug Trafficking Section.[3] During her career as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of New York, Klapper prosecuted many of the United States’ most significant money laundering and international drug trafficking cases of the past two decades. Some of these are described below, in chronological order.[4]

Notable cases[edit]

National Mortgage Bank of Greece and Atlantic Bank[edit]

This investigation resulted in the convictions of the National Mortgage Bank of Greece, Atlantic Bank and eleven individuals on Title 31 charges for illegally sending tens of millions of dollars from The United States to Greece.[5]

Money Remitter Initiatives[edit]

These investigations, which commenced in 1994 and continued through 2007, targeted money remitters agents and licensed money remitters in the greater New York area. They resulted in the conviction of the four largest licensed money remitters in New York State and approximately 70 money remitter agents, the closure of approximately 50 money remitter stores and the seizure of over $10 million. U.S. v. Vigo, South American Exchange, Perusa, et al.[6]

Money Order Initiative[edit]

This initiative focused on the use of structured money orders to launder drug money. Working both civilly and criminally, the government seized dozens of bank accounts containing over $1 million and successfully prosecuted approximately seven defendants from 1992 to 1996. Klapper tried and convicted Juan Manuel Ortiz, a violent Cali trafficker with a prior murder conviction who was laundering drug proceeds through money orders in the U.S. Various civil forfeiture actions, U.S. v. Ortiz[7]

GTO[edit]

As a result of the information gathered through the money remitter and Vigo et al. investigations, the Treasury Department issued a Geographic Targeting Order (“GTO”). This GTO targeted all remittances from the greater New York area to Colombia in excess of $750. The GTO required the reporting of these remittances on a form similar to that of a currency transaction report to the IRS, which form required sender information and identification. Within two days of the issuance of the GTO, remittances from the greater New York area to Colombia fell almost 90%, confirming that the vast majority of the remittances consisted of drug proceeds. Five of the ten largest licensed remitters in the greater New York area either voluntarily closed down or were prosecuted and closed. The GTO displaced huge amounts of money out of the remitters and on to the streets, resulting in a huge increase in money seizures on the Eastern seaboard, including street seizures, port seizures and even Amtrak seizures. In total, during the period that the GTO was in existence, approximately one year, El Dorado Task Force and Klapper seized over $4 million attributable to the GTO. The final result of the GTO was the voluntary lowering of the identification requirement for money remitters sending money to Colombia to $1,000. In addition, the Treasury Department issued new nonbank financial service regulations to address problems identified during GTO. Klapper prosecuted and convicted fourteen money remitter owners and employees for violating the GTO. These prosecutions spanned 1997-1998.[8]

Money Broker Operation[edit]

This investigation targeted Colombian money brokers using the Black Market Peso Exchange to launder drug proceeds. Klapper tried and convicted two money launderers, one of whom was an NYPD police officer, and continued with the identification, indictment, extradition and conviction of three major money brokers, all of whom had laundered tens of million in drug proceeds from the U.S. to Colombia. This investigation spanned 2000 to 2005. U.S. v. Zapata, et al.[9]

Norte Valle prosecutions[edit]

During the course of the GTO investigation, the El Dorado Task Force, DEA and Klapper identified and prosecuted three money remitter stores for money laundering. Data from these stores revealed an extraordinary amount of money being laundered to the area of Cartago, Colombia. Klapper’s prosecution of the owner of these stores resulted in the investigation of the Norte Valle Cartel, which was based in Cartago. The Norte Valle Cartel was one of the most powerful and violent drug cartels in the world. During its heyday, from approximately 1995 through 2007, the Norte Valle Cartel was responsible for between 50 to 60 percent of the cocaine that entered the United States. Building on cases stemming from the GTO money remitter cases, Juan Albeiro Monsalve, the Norte Valle Cartel’s representative in the U.S. was charged and convicted. As part of this case, three other individuals were prosecuted and convicted of murder/kidnapping in aid of racketeering. U.S v. Monsalve, Rojas et al. Starting with the Monsalve prosecution, the investigation worked up the chain to the very highest reaches of the Norte Valle Cartel. From 2002 to 2009, investigations and prosecutions dismantled the entire leadership of the Norte Valle Cartel, charging, extraditing and convicting 30 defendants. The defendants convicted included Luis Hernando Gomez Bustamante, also known as “Rasguno,” Archangel de Jesus Henao Montoya, also known as “Mocho,” and Carlos Arturo Patino, also known as “Patemuro.” The investigation also led to the indictment of fugitive Vicente Carillo, leader of the Mexican Juarez Cartel. U.S. v. Luis Hernando Gomez Bustamante, et al.; United States v. Vicente Carillo[10][11]

The Venezuela investigation[edit]

Building on the Norte Valle investigation, ICE El Dorado, DEA and Klapper commenced an investigation which identified a major trafficking organization which was a pioneer in the use of Venezuela as a trans-shipment point for cocaine traveling from Colombia to Mexico and on to the United States. Between 2005 and 2007, this organization sent approximately 85,000 kilograms of cocaine from Colombian to the United States. This investigation led to the indictment and conviction of fourteen individuals who were the leaders of this organization and the complete dismantling of the organization. In addition, it led to the indictment of fugitive Miguel Trevino, also known as Z-40, the leader of los Zetas, Mexico’s most violent cartel. U.S. v. Beltran Cristancho, Herrera, Tello Candelo[12]

The Panama investigation/Valenciano[edit]

Building on evidence obtained during the Norte Valle and Venezuela investigations, the El Dorado Task Force, DEA and Klapper obtained an indictment and conviction of Maximiliano Bonilla, also known as Valenciano. Bonilla was one of the most violent traffickers operating in Colombia. The investigation revealed that Bonilla was using Panama and Venezuela as a trans-shipment route for container-loads of cocaine once the route through Venezuela had been shut down and selling massive quantities of cocaine to the violence Mexican organizations, Los Zetas. Valenciano became a fugitive, was arrested in Venezuela and eventually sent to the United States,where he awaits sentencing. U.S. v. Maximiliano Bonilla, et al.[13]

The Don Lucho Super Cartel[edit]

During the last years of her career as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, Klapper was the lead prosecutor, working with ICE and DEA agents domestically in New York, Tampa, and Colombia, Mexico and Argentina, of the Luis Caicedo Organization. Klapper and the agents identified, obtained indictments of and convicted the entire hierarchy of this organization, from its leaders to its suppliers, transporters and money laundering, thereby dismantling an organization that became known as the Super Cartel because of the staggering quantity of cocaine it exported to the United States and Europe. Conservative estimates are that this organization sent approximately 800,000 kilograms of cocaine from Colombia to the U.S. and laundered approximately $ 4 billion during a six year period. Over 20 individuals were convicted, approximately $173 million in drug money was seized, approximately 3,800 kilos was seized, and several fast boast and semisubmersibles were seized. CBS 60 Minutes did a 1 hour special on this called The Super Cartel.[14]

In popular media[edit]

Publications: The Takedown and El Cartel de los Sapos Klapper and Special Agent Romedio Viola (retired, ICE), the agent with whom she worked during most of her career, were the subject of a book published in 2011 called The Takedown: A Suburban Mom, the Son of a Coal Miner and the Unlikely Demise of Colombia’s Brutal Norte Valle Cartel by noted investigative author Jeffrey Robinson. The book details Klapper’s and Viola’s 15 year effort to identify and systematically dismantle the brutal Norte Valle Cartel which, at its pinnacle, was responsible for 50% and 60% of the cocaine which entered the United States, by following the money, starting with small money remitters in Jackson Heights Queens and ending with the conviction of the entire Norte Valle leadership. It describes the contract placed on her and Viola’s lives, by Carlos Arturo Patino, alias “Patemuro,” a violent cartel leader who sought retribution against the two for his arrest, and the efforts by cartel leader Luis Hernando Gomez Bustamante, also known as “Rasguno,” and his attorney, to discredit the two personally and professionally, in retribution for his conviction.[15]

Klapper is also prominently mentioned in Colombia’s Number One best-selling book, El Cartel de Los Sapos (later a telenovella and Academy-nominated movie), by well-known author and documentarian Andres Lopez Lopez. In that book, she emerges as a humane, caring prosecutor whose only mission was to seek a just and fair resolution.[16]

Current employment[edit]

In February 2012, after 26 years of federal service, Klapper retired from the government. She is now a private defense attorney with an office in New York. Klapper specializes in domestic and international money laundering cases, international narcotics trafficking cases and cases involving individuals designated by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. She consults on federal cases in many districts, including the Eastern District of New York, the Southern District of New York, the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida and the District of Columbia.[17]

Family and volunteer work[edit]

Klapper has been married for 25 years and is the parent of two children and four dogs. Her eldest son was born with a neuropsychological disorder and Klapper spent many years volunteering with BPKids.Org, a support group for parents with children suffering from child and adolescent bipolar disorder. Her youngest son is a college student. Klapper also is involved with various animal rescue organizations, walking and caring for dogs at a no-kill shelter on Long Island. She spends her free time kickboxing, baking and reading.[18]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "State Bar of CA :: Bonnie S. Klapper". ca.gov. Retrieved 2014-09-24. 
  2. ^ a b "Bonnie Klapper Background". Retrieved 25 September 2014. 
  3. ^ "Bonnie S. Klapper Of Counsel". Retrieved 25 September 2014. 
  4. ^ Rory, Carroll. "US drugs prosecutors switch sides to defend accused Colombian traffickers". Retrieved 25 September 2014. 
  5. ^ Buder, Leonard. "U.S. Charges Greek Bank Ran Scheme to Evade Tax". Retrieved 25 September 2014. 
  6. ^ "USDOJ: US Attorney's Office - Eastern District of New York". Justice.gov. Retrieved 2013-10-19. 
  7. ^ "UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT, E.D. NEW YORK. ORTIZ-ALVEAR v. LAPPIN". Retrieved 25 September 2014. 
  8. ^ "DS Assists in 'Operation Pinpoint' Money-Laundering Probe". Retrieved 25 September 2014. 
  9. ^ William, Glaberson. "Ashcroft's Push For Execution Voids Plea Deal". Retrieved 25 September 2014. 
  10. ^ "USDOJ: US Attorney's Office - Eastern District of New York". Justice.gov. Retrieved 2013-10-19. 
  11. ^ Robinson, Jeffrey (2011). The Takedown: A Suburban Mom, A Coal Miner's Son, and The Unlikely Demise of Colombia's Brutal Norte Valle Cartel. New York City: Thomas Dunne Books. p. 336. ISBN 0312612389. 
  12. ^ "USDOJ: US Attorney's Office - Eastern District of New York". Justice.gov. 2009-07-20. Retrieved 2013-10-19. 
  13. ^ "Una Fiscal de EE. UU. pasa de perseguir narcos a defenderlos". Retrieved 25 September 2014. 
  14. ^ "Latin American Herald Tribune - Argentina Confirms Arrest of Colombian Trafficker Wanted by U.S". Laht.com. Retrieved 2013-10-19. 
  15. ^ YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SFMMA1ubKw |url= missing title (help). Retrieved 25 September 2014. 
  16. ^ Lopez Lopez, Andres (May 15, 2008). El Cartel de los Sapos. ISBN 9584218204. 
  17. ^ "DEA La puerta giratoria, Nación - Edición Impresa Semana.com - Últimas Noticias". Semana.com. Retrieved 2013-10-19. 
  18. ^ "Bonnie Klapper Background". Retrieved 25 September 2014. 

External links[edit]