But the general's attorney said the case against Vang Pao was as flimsy as rice paper.
"The sting operation was grotesquely unfair and at worst took advantage of some gullible people," said John Keker, the general's San Francisco-based attorney. "It was manufactured by that agent."
The government's decision to drop Vang Pao's prosecution marked another escape for a storied war hero who defied bullets and dodged artillery on the battlefield.
After the communists conquered his homeland in 1975, Vang Pao fled with six wives and more than 20 children to the United States, his old ally in the CIA-backed "secret war" in Laos. He became the most recognizable leader of the Hmong in America, courted by congressmen, venerated by fellow immigrants. Elementary schools were named after him.