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MIAMI (AP) -- A former Haitian coup leader and recently elected senator in that country pleaded guilty Monday to a U.S. drug money-laundering charge under a deal that should allow him to avoid a potential sentence of life in prison for cocaine trafficking.

Under the plea deal, the recommended prison sentence for Guy Philippe is nine years and the drug trafficking charge would be dropped. He also faces a $1.5 million fine at a sentencing hearing July 5.

"You understand I am under no obligation to impose that sentence?" asked U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga, noting that the maximum potential sentence is 20 years.

"Yes, your honor," said Philippe.

Philippe, 49, led a 2004 Haitian uprising that ousted then-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and was indicted along with several others on U.S. drug charges in 2005. He managed to elude capture for more than a decade, including at least 10 attempts to arrest him in Haiti that involved a military operation and a foot chase through the countryside.

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