WASHINGTON (AP) -- A former Cuban intelligence agent says one of the
Puerto Rican nationalists granted clemency by the White House last summer
helped pull off one of the biggest U.S. robberies with funding from the
Jorge Masetti, who in the early 1990s defected to Europe, has been
interviewed by aides to the House Government Reform Committee and was
to testify Monday at a public hearing near Miami, committee chief counsel
James Wilson said in an interview Sunday.
Wilson said Masetti will tell the story of how the Cuban government helped
finance the 1983 robbery of a Wells Fargo armored truck in West Hartford,
Connecticut, which netted $7.2 million.
One of those involved in the heist, Juan Segarra Palmer, was caught and
sentenced to 55 years in prison. Segarra was one of 12 members of the
FALN granted clemency by Clinton in August. Eleven of those were
released, but Segarra struck a deal that will allow him to go free in five
Repeating a story published in his book, "El Furor y El Delirio" ("The
and the Delirium"), Masetti has told investigators that Segarra received
$50,000 in "seed money" from the Cuban government to help carry out the
Wells Fargo robbery, Wilson said.
After the robbery, the $7.2 million booty was smuggled to Mexico City in
recreational vehicle outfitted with special hidden compartments, Masetti has
told investigators, according to Wilson. Masetti says he was involved in
shipping $4 million of the Wells Fargo money from the Cuban Embassy in
Mexico City to Havana.
The Cuban Interests Section in Washington, which acts as Cuba's embassy,
told the Hartford Courant earlier this year that the tale was "more science
fiction than anything else."
In Puerto Rico, nationalists said their links to Cuba were confined to
support for Puerto Rico's independence from the United States -- support
that predated Fidel Castro's 1959 communist revolution.
Masetti's testimony is part of the Government Reform Committee's latest
effort to link Cuba to the FALN -- the Spanish abbreviation for the Armed
Forces for National Liberation -- and a Puerto Rican group, the
Macheteros, or Cane Cutters.
Committee Chairman Rep. Dan Burton earlier this month requested any
records showing a link between the separatists and the Cuban government.
He also issued subpoenas to the Justice Department and FBI.
Burton wrote to CIA Director George Tenet asking for surveillance
intercepts and any other records on a Cuba-Puerto Rico connection. He
also sought a briefing on the agency's knowledge of the pro-independence
guerrilla groups the nationals belonged to.
The FALN carried out a wave of bombings in the United States in the late
1970s and early 1980s that left six dead and scores wounded. The
Macheteros have been responsible mainly for attacks in Puerto Rico.
Copyright 2000 The Associated Press.