By Mary Wisniewski
CHICAGO (Reuters) - A Chicago man was sentenced to 15 months in prison on Tuesday for illegal lobbying on behalf of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and others to try to lift economic sanctions against the African nation.
C. Gregory Turner met many times in Africa with Zimbabwean government officials, including Mugabe and Gideon Gono, governor of the Reserve Bank of Mugabe, who were both subject to U.S. sanctions, federal prosecutors in Chicago said.
A November 2008 consulting agreement provided for $3.4 million in fees for Turner and his co-defendant, Prince Asiel Ben Israel, to engage in consulting and lobbying efforts with government officials - including Illinois members of Congress - to try to have sanctions lifted, prosecutors said.
Turner, 72, was found guilty by a federal jury last October of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, prosecutors said. Ben Israel, 73, also of Chicago, was sentenced last August to seven months in prison after pleading guilty to violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
Prosecutors said Turner claimed he was acting out of humanitarianism, but was really after money.
"He sought to parlay his close relationships with well-connected government officials to score a big payday," prosecutors argued in court documents.
Sanctions against Mugabe and others in Zimbabwe for human rights abuses were imposed in 2003 by President George W. Bush and have been continued under President Barack Obama. The sanctions prohibit individuals from providing services on behalf of or for the benefit of Mugabe and others, prosecutors said.
Mugabe, a former guerilla leader, has headed the southern African country since the end of British rule in 1980.
(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Richard Chang)