A father and grandfather who was serving a 505-year prison sentence for a nonviolent financial crime, have been ordered to be released immediately.
U.S. District Court Judge Stephen V. Wilson has ordered that convicted money launderer Juan Carlos Seresi be released centuries earlier than his 2419 release date “without delay.” The judge has ruled that Seresi will still need to serve a three year supervised release term.
“We are so happy for Juan Carlos and his beautiful family,” said Reuven Cohen, one of Seresi’s attorneys, who took the case pro bono.
The now 73-year-old Seresi was one of four defendants sentenced to 505 years behind bars after being convicted in 1991. Seresi, along with his brothers Vahe and Nazareth Andonian and Raul Vivas, was charged with laundering more than $300 million in drug cartel money through their precious metal and money exchange businesses. None of the men were convicted of having direct involvement in the cocaine distribution ring at the center of the case.
Back in August, Wilson initially denied prosecutors’ request to overturn the convictions. However, after a month’s long investigation, he had a change of heart. Seresi’s attorneys also filed a motion seeking his release on compassionate grounds, due in part to his age and health issues that could put him at higher risk for COVID-19 complications if he were to become infected. Their request was granted. The remaining defendants’ appeals are still pending.
“It’s a miracle,” Seresi said after his daughter Patti Mawer delivered him the good news.
“After all this praying and all this hoping, he can’t believe it,” the 46-year-old Mawer added.
During the past 30 years in prison, Seresi earned three associate degrees and maintained a nearly perfect disciplinary record.
Attorney Jerry Newton, who represents Vahe Andonian, was pleased with Seresi’s release and is confident that his client will be released as well on the same grounds.
“They’re essentially around the same age. They’ve spent 31 years in prison without one incident. They’ve taken every educational course they could get their hands on,” Newton explained. “It’s a fair and just result to let them enjoy the remainder of their lives outside of prison.”