Third Guilty Plea in Probe Tying Rep Cuellar to Foreign Bribes

Federal investigators have achieved a significant milestone in their probe into U.S. Representative Henry Cuellar of Texas, securing a third guilty plea in connection with the case. Allegations against Cuellar suggest that he received nearly $600,000 in bribes from an energy company controlled by Azerbaijan and a Mexican bank. Irada Akhoundova, aged 67, admitted to serving as an unregistered agent for Azerbaijan, with the details of her guilty plea disclosed on May 9th.

Cuellar and his wife, Imelda Cuellar, stand accused of accepting payments between 2014 and 2021 in exchange for advancing the interests of Azerbaijan and the Mexican bank within the United States. However, both Cuellar and his legal counsel maintain their innocence. This investigation has further resulted in guilty pleas from Colin Strother, one of Cuellar's former top aides, and Florencia Roden, a political and business consultant from Texas, on charges linked to the Mexican bank.

Akhoundova's plea agreement exposes her failure to register as an agent of a foreign entity, potentially subjecting her to a maximum sentence of five years in prison. The alleged bribes from Azerbaijani entities amounted to over $300,000. According to indictments against the Cuellars, the Azerbaijan energy company initially routed payments through a Texas-based shell company owned by Imelda Cuellar and two of the couple's children.

Cuellar, formerly the co-chair of the Congressional Azerbaijan Caucus, is accused of agreeing to influence legislation favoring Azerbaijan and delivering a pro-Azerbaijan speech on the floor of the U.S. House. In addition to bribery and conspiracy charges, the Cuellars face accusations of wire fraud conspiracy, acting as agents of foreign entities, and money laundering. If found guilty, they could potentially face lengthy prison sentences and forfeiture of any assets linked to proceeds from the alleged scheme.

Written by Staff Reports

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