WASHINGTON, D.C. ó 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. governmentís 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 Departmentís National Security Division.