BEST CRIMINAL CONVICTION IN THE PAST TWELVE MONTHS

Willie and Sal trial jurors

Gloria Alba and Maria del Carmen Peñalver were in their midtwenties when they sat on the jury that acquitted Willie Falcon and Sal Magluta in February 1996. Falcon and Magluta had been charged with importing 75 tons of cocaine, worth some two billion dollars. Assistant U.S. Attorney Pat Sullivan, who prosecuted the case with colleague Chris Clarke, knew something wasn't right about that acquittal, which not only set free the two biggest drug dealers in Miami's history, but which cost taxpayers millions of dollars and U.S. Attorney Kendall Coffey his job. Sullivan was right about something not being right, a fact affirmed this past January by U.S. District Judge Paul Huck, who sentenced Alba and Peñalver to five years in prison for accepting bribes to spring Willie and Sal. Peñalver finally admitted to taking $20,000 from jury foreman Miguel Moya, who is now doing seventeen and a half years in prison. Alba was convicted of raking in some $260,000 in bribes. Her husband got nearly five years for participating in the scheme. Meanwhile, Falcon is serving 20 years for money laundering and Magluta was sentenced to 205 years on a host of charges related to the fixed jury. It was a happy ending for Sullivan's prosecutorial nightmare.

 
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