[Ppnews] Avelino Gonzalez-Claudio Pleads Guilty In 1983 Wells Fargo Robbery

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Feb 5 17:52:36 EST 2010


Please note that this is from a corporate news source.

Man Pleads Guilty In 1983 Wells Fargo Robbery


The Hartford Courant

4:34 PM EST, February 5, 2010


A key figure in the $7.1 million Wells Fargo 
robbery in West Hartford nearly three decades ago 
abruptly pleaded guilty in federal court Friday 
to charges that include smuggling the money out of the country.

Avelino Gonzalez-Claudio, 67, was a leader and 
strategist of Los Macheteros, a militant, Puerto 
Rico pro-independence group. In the 1970s and 
'80s, the group claimed responsibility for armed 
attacks on federal interests in Puerto Rico, two 
of which caused the deaths of U.S. military personnel.

Gonzalez-Claudio pleaded guilty Friday afternoon 
in U.S. District Court in Hartford to conspiracy 
to commit robbery and transportation of stolen 
money out of the country. Under terms of his plea 
agreement, he would be sentenced to 7 years in 
prison and a fine not to exceed $10,000. 
Sentencing is scheduled for later this year.

He has been in prison in Connecticut since the 
FBI arrested him in 2008 in Puerto Rico as he 
drove through the northern coastal city of 
Manati. While in prison, he was diagnosed with 
Parkinson's disease, and correctional authorities 
refused to provide him with medication until last 
month, said his lawyer, James Bergenn. In court, 
Gonzalez-Claudio appeared gaunt and emaciated, 
and the disease had taken such hold that he was barely able to speak.

Documents seized by the FBI showed that 
Macheteros planned to use the stolen millions to 
finance the violent overthrow of the U.S. 
government in Puerto Rico and to support leftist 
insurgencies elsewhere in Latin America.

Los Macheteros recruited a young college drop-out 
from Hartford, Victor Gerena, to be its inside 
man in the Sept. 12, 1983, Wells Fargo robbery. 
Gerena obtained a job as a Wells Fargo guard, 
overpowered his co-workers with a pistol, 
injected them with a narcotic to incapacitate 
them, and helped stuff the cash into a battered 
sedan which was driven to the depot by fellow Macheteros.

Gonzalez-Claudio and other Macheteros were 
accused, among other things, of hiding the cash 
behind hollow walls in a used motor home and 
driving the money, in two trips, to Mexico. 
Wire-tapped conversations, seized documents and 
other intelligence shows that most of the stolen 
money was flown from Mexico to Cuba, where it 
ended up under the control of Cuba's president at the time, Fidel Castro.

Agents continue to seek the two remaining 
Machetero fugitives wanted in connection with the 
robbery: Gonzalez-Claudio's brother, Norberto; and Gerena.

Copyright © 2010, <http://www.courant.com/>The Hartford Courant

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