Prosecutors in Washington described Gregory Sitzmann as a high-level international drug dealer, participating in a drug and money laundering conspiracy for more than a decade.
Sitzmann, 61, convicted this week in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, now faces a mandatory minimum 20-year prison term when he is sentenced, prosecutors said today. A jury convicted him Monday for his role in a conspiracy to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine.
Prosecutors said Sitzmann’s drug and money laundering ring operated out of the United States, Italy, Spain, Colombia and other countries. Sitzmann was indicted in August 2008. Prosecutors said Sitzmann delayed trial for years as he raced through defense lawyers while making demands to represent himself.
“Gregory Sitzmann was a high-flying international cocaine trafficker who eluded justice for decades,” U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen Jr. said in a statement. “He will now remain behind bars to contemplate the countless lives destroyed by the drugs he distributed for so many years.”
Prosecutors said Sitzmann’s drug ring transported hundreds of kilograms of cocaine from Colombia and Mexico into the United States and around the world. Sitzmann, according to the government, used commercial and private airplanes to transport cocaine in the 1990s. Prosecutors said Sitzmann had bank accounts in Panama, Switzerland and Luxembourg.
U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman last year refused to allow Sitzmann to represent himself in the proceedings. Friedman described Sitzmann’s vacillation between wanting an attorney and wanting to represent himself as a manipulation of the court.
Sitzmann, Friedman said, manufactured conflicts with his lawyers and tarnished their reputation “in an attempt to replace them and further delay his case.”
Sitzmann alleged the government delayed indicting him for years to gain a tactical advantage. Prosecutors said the government delayed filing charges because Sitzmann “expressed a willingness to cooperate with the United States and because (he) was incarcerated in France.”
Assistant U.S. attorneys George Eliopoulos and Sharad Khandelwal investigated and tried the Sitzmann case. A status conference is set for June 12. Sitzmann has remained in federal custody since 2008.
Sitzmann's lawyer, Thomas Abbenante, declined to comment on the case.