Posada associates plead guilty
by Jay Weaver
Dec. 13, 2007
Reprinted from Miami Herald
Five associates of Cuban exile militant Luis Posada Carriles have pleaded guilty in Texas to charges of obstruction of justice in an investigation linked to immigration fraud charges against Posada, the Justice Department said Thursday.
Ruben Lopez-Castro and Jose Pujol each pleaded guilty to one count before U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone on Wednesday.
The other three defendants who already pleaded guilty to an obstruction charge: Ernesto Abreu, Osvaldo Mitat and Santiago Alvarez.
All five defendants, who are from Miami, face up to 10 years in prison.
The defendants refused to testify before the federal grand jury about Posada's entry into the United States in 2005. Posada was charged with lying to immigration authorities when he said he entered the country at the Texas border. That conflicted with information from a government witness, Gilberto Abascal, who told federal agents that Posada came into the country on a fishing boat from a Mexican island.
Abascal has told The Miami Herald he was on the boat with Posada and several of the other defendants. The vessel, called the Santrina, belonged to a company owned by Alvarez.
Alvarez is a South Florida real estate magnate who was convicted in a separate criminal case stemming from stockpiling weapons in South Florida. Mitat, a handyman for Alvarez's business, also was convicted in that case.
Earlier this year, Cardonne, the federal judge, dismissed the fraud indictment filed against Posada in El Paso, saying federal authorities used his immigration interview as a pretext to probe Posada's alleged anti-Castro militant activities.
Among them: a conspiracy to bomb a series of tourist sites in Havana in 1997 that left one Italian man dead. The Justice Department has been investigating that case for almost two years before a federal grand jury in Newark, N.J.
Department of Justice Press Release
Additional Defendants Plead Guilty to Obstruction of Justice in U.S. Investigation of Luis Posada Carriles
Dec. 13, 2007
Reprinted from DOJ
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Five associates of Cuban exile Luis Posada Carriles have pleaded guilty in the Western District of Texas to charges of obstruction of justice in connection with the U.S. government’s investigation of Posada Carriles, Michael J. Mullaney, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas announced today.
Late yesterday, Ruben Lopez-Castro, 69, and Jose Pujol, 78, each entered pleas of guilty to a one-count superseding criminal information that charged each defendant with obstruction of justice. The plea occurred before U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone. Each defendant faces a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment, a fine of $250,000, three years supervised release and a $100 special assessment. Sentencing for the pair was scheduled for March 13, 2008.
On Dec. 3, 2007, Ernesto Abreu also pleaded guilty to an obstruction of justice count in the Western District of Texas in connection with the same investigation. On Nov. 16, 2007, two additional defendants, Osvaldo Mitat and Santiago Alvarez each entered pleas of guilty to obstruction of justice in the case. Sentencing for Abreu, Mitat and Alvarez has been scheduled for Feb. 1, 2008.
A federal grand jury in the Western District of Texas subpoenaed each of the defendants to testify in the course of its investigation into allegedly false statements made to the government made by Posada Carriles about his unlawful entry to the United States and other matters.
Each of the defendants was granted immunity from prosecution from any self-incriminating statements and was ordered to testify by the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Texas. Not withstanding the grant of immunity and court order compelling their testimony, the defendants refused to testify before the grand jury about the subject of its investigation. By doing so, the defendants did unlawfully and corruptly influence, obstruct and impede, and endeavor to influence, obstruct, and impede the due administration of justice.
The investigation into this matter is being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The case is being prosecuted by Michael J. Mullaney, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas for purposes of this prosecution, as well as Trial Attorneys John W. Van Lonkhuyzen and Paul Ahern, from the Counter-Terrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.