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Mon Feb 25, 2019, 05:40 PM

Extortionist linked to pro-Macri prosecutor indicted, jailed

Last edited Thu Feb 28, 2019, 06:11 PM - Edit history (2)

A federal judge in Argentina issued an indictment and remand against Marcelo d'Alessio, an associate of a federal prosecutor with close ties to President Mauricio Macri, after evidence surfaced of his central role in a large-scale extortion and shakedown scheme.

d'Alessio, 48, had been arrested on February 15, a week after over 22 hours of incriminating audio and video was submitted to investigative journalist Horacio Verbitsky by Buenos Aires organic farmer Pedro Etchebest.

The tapes, made from December 28 to January 28, show d'Alessio describing the shakedown scheme in detail, including assertions that both Federal Prosecutor Carlos Stornelli and Judge Claudio Bonadío - both close Macri allies - oversaw the scheme as part of their "notebookgate" investigation against Macri's opponents.

The recordings show d'Alessio demanding $300,000 from Etchebest in return for sparing him being framed by Stornelli, as well as being slandered by Clarín writer Daniel Santoro - a close d'Alessio friend and the author of numerous debunked claims against Macri's leading opponent, former President Cristina Kirchner.

Details on similar shakedowns against other Argentine businessmen were also discussed: Some $12 million in bribes had been collected this way just since last August, according to d'Alessio.

And while Stornelli denied being more than "slightly acquainted" with d'Alessio, tapes and WhatsApp messages show a close working relationship between the two.

Friends in high places

Like Stornelli, d'Alessio has close links to Macri - himself facing numerous tax evasion and self-dealing charges.

His uncle, Carlos d'Alessio, was appointed presidential notary public, and his law office partner, José Fernández Ferrari, is the trustee for Macri's blind trust - which are illegal in Argentina.

"Stornelli is Macri," d'Alessio told Etchebest, adding that "Claudio (Bonadío) will want a cut too."

The mercurial d'Alessio, until recently a frequent guest on right-wing media, had his gated community home and apartment in Buenos Aires' chic Puerto Madero raided by authorities on February 13, during which over $1 million in valuables, as well as unauthorized assault weapons, were found.

From shakedown to shakeup

The tapes have also led to calls that Bonadío and Stornelli be recused from the "notebookgate" case - the centerpiece of Macri's strategy of winning reelection this year by driving up negatives against opponents, amid 30% approval and the worst recession since 2002.

Notebookgate emerged last August after photocopies of notebooks belonging to a former Ministry of Public Works chauffeur were published, appearing to detail a long-running bribery scheme during former President Cristina Kirchner's 2007-15 tenure.

The notebooks, though, have never been produced, and by Argentine law photocopies are not admissible evidence in court.

The d'Alessio case has also focused attention into suspected U.S. and Israeli interference in Argentine politics in an election year.

d'Alessio mentioned being "congratulated" by the Israeli Embassy, and claimed in the recordings to be both a DEA and NSA asset - something U.S. Ambassador Edward Prado promptly denied. The February 13 raid on his home, however, found DEA credentials.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&tab=wT&sl=auto&tl=en&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pagina12.com.ar%2F177236-preso-por-servicio



Indicted extortionist Marcelo d'Alessio, Federal Prosecutor Carlos Stornelli, and another Macri ally, Salta Mayor Gustavo Sáenz - the bagman, according to the d'Alessio tapes.

The public face of Macri's weaponized judiciary against opponents, Stornelli's role in recordings showing large-scale extortion by d'Alessio has led to calls for his removal and prosecution.

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