'DWI Dude' attorney sentenced for scamming drug traffickers

A Texas lawyer known as the “DWI Dude” has been sentenced to more than 15 years in federal prison for falsely promising Colombian drug traffickers he’d get their charges reduced in exchange for cash

SHERMAN, Texas -- A Texas lawyer known as the “DWI Dude” has been sentenced to more than 15 years in federal prison for falsely promising Colombian drug traffickers he'd get their charges reduced or dismissed in exchange for cash, prosecutors said.

Jamie Balagia, 65, was sentenced Monday to 188 months in federal prison. He was convicted after a two-week trial in 2019 of conspiracy to commit money laundering, obstruction of justice, violation of the Kingpin Act, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

There were no bribes or government officials involved.

“The evidence in this case demonstrated that Balagia had been shaking down his clients for years by claiming that he was able to purchase favorable deals from prosecutors and judges alike,” Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas Ganjei said.

Defense attorney Gaylon Riddels had asked for probation for his client, saying that Balagia was “homeless, destitute and broken,” the Dallas Morning News reported.

Balagia's two co-defendants in the case previously pleaded guilty and are serving federal prison sentences.