- Associated Press - Thursday, June 28, 2018

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A figure in a social security scandal in Honduras has pleaded guilty to money laundering charges in New Orleans.

Carlos Zelaya, 47, pleaded guilty in the laundering of more than $1.3 million in bribe payments from the Republic of Honduras, according to court records and a U.S. Justice Department news release.

Zelaya’s brother, Mario Zelaya, was the director of the Honduran Institute of Social Security, from 2010 to 2014. Mario Zelaya was imprisoned amid allegations he fraudulently misspent at least $120 million.

Prosecutors said Thursday the brothers conspired to launder bribe money paid by two Honduran businessmen. The money was laundered into the New Orleans area through wire transfers and was used to buy real estate. Court records list properties in St. Tammany Parish, north of New Orleans.

Carlos Zelaya collected and spent the rental income derived from the properties, even after a federal judge ordered him to preserve the funds pending resolution of a federal civil forfeiture suit,” Thursday’s Justice Department announcement said.

Carlos Zelaya, a Honduran citizen, pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of conspiracy to launder money. He also agreed to forfeit properties involved in the money laundering scheme. Sentencing is scheduled Oct. 3.

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