On Feb. 5 Puerto Rican independence activist Avelino González Claudio, a suspected leader of the rebel Popular Boricua Army (EPB)-Macheteros, pleaded guilty in US District Court in Hartford, Conn., to charges in the 1983 armed robbery of $7.1 million from a Wells Fargo depot in West Hartford, one of the largest robberies in US history. González Claudio, arrested in Puerto Rico in 2008 after 22 years in hiding, was charged with conspiracy to commit robbery and transportation of stolen money out of the country, allegedly to finance Machetero activities. According to US intelligence, most of the money ended up in Cuba.
The maximum sentence is 15 years, but in a plea agreement US attorneys recommended a seven-year sentence and a fine not to exceed $10,000. González Claudio was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease while in prison in Connecticut. His lawyer, James Bergenn, charges that correctional authorities refused to provide González Claudio with medicine until this January. The Hartford Courant reported that the defendant “appeared gaunt and emaciated” while in court, “and the disease had taken such hold that he was barely able to speak.” Sentencing is scheduled for later this year.
Two other suspects have never been captured: González Claudio’s brother Norberto and Víctor Gerena, a Wells Fargo driver at the time of the robbery. (Hartford Courant, Feb. 5; Primera Hora, Puerto Rico, Feb. 5 from AP)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Feb. 7
See our last post on Puerto Rico.