Machetero suspects may face ‘79, ‘81 raps
By HARRY TURNER
Scripps Howard News Service
HARTFORD, Conn. - The FBI intends to bring other criminal charges against a number of suspected Macheteros, including charges of shooting up a Navy bus in 1979 and blowing up nine military jet planes in 1981.
The first disclosure of the FBI's intention to widen the prosecution against the Macheteros came from FBI agent José Rodríquez at the bail hearing Monday for Juan Enrique Segarra, 35, who was described as the "brains" behind the Puerto Rican terrorist organization.
Rodríquez said charges have been prepared but not yet presented to the U.S. Attorney's office against Segarra in both the Sabana Seca bus shootup, in which two sailors were killed, and the burning of the nine jet planes.
Although Segarra was the only one mentioned against whom charges have been prepared, the implication in Rodríquez's testimony was that others would also be charged, including some perhaps who have not been implicated in the present case.
The 13 defendants undergoing bail hearings in .U.S. District Court here have only been charged with complicity in the September 1983, robbery of the Wells Fargo armored car depot here in which $7 million was taken.
The prosecution claims the robbery was carried out by the Macheteros to finance their terrorist operations.
At the end of the bailing hearing Monday, U.S. Magistrate F. Owen Eagan remanded Segarra to prison to await trial next year.
Segarra was the last of the 13 to have a bail hearing. Eagan has granted bail to seven defendants and denied it to six others. However, many of the bailing rulings are being appealed and no one has been freed yet.
In his testimony Monday, Rodríquez quoted a former Machetero-turned-informer, Carlos Rodríguez Rodríguez, as saying that Segarra, a former student at Andover prep school and Harvard University, was a "major planner" of the Sabana Seca bus shootup.
Segarra has already been identified in testimony as one of those who struggled through a marsh bordering Muníz Air Base adjacent to San Juan airport in January 1981, to blow up the nine Air National Guard jets.
Segarra, a bearded, bespectacled man, was described by Rodríquez as "the brains" of the Macheteros. "He comes up with the plans, other people do the work," the FBI agent said.
Segarra's wife, Luz Berríos Berrios, 34, is one of the 13 defendants being held here. Their two children are being cared for by relatives.
The name of Anne Gassin, 26, of Cambridge, Mass., was also brought into Monday's testimony.
Gassin, who was reportedly Segarra's girlfriend, originally was arrested on charges of laundering some of the Wells Fargo money, but she has since agreed to testify against the other defendants.
In his testimony, Rodríquez described a bugged conversation in the apartment of alleged Machetero leader Filiberto Ojeda Ríos in which plans were made to bring several "gift boxes" out of Mexico to the United States. In the boxes, the agent said, would be grenades and plastic explosives.
One of the persons being considered for the smuggling out of the weapons, Rodríquez said, was San Juan attorney María Fernos Cepero, whose codename was "Lisa."
Fernos, the daughter of former Resident Commissioner Antonio Fernos Isern, is the wife of San Juan labor lawyer Jorge Farinacci, one of those charged here. No charges, however, have been filed against her.
Rodríquez also identified San Juan labor lawyer Pedro Varela as having the code name "Manolo" in the Macheteros. No charges have been filed against Varela either. He is the attorney for one of the defendants here.
The FBI agent called Segarra a "founding member" of the Macheteros in Puerto Rico and said he helped drive a motor home from the United States to Mexico, in which were hidden Víctor Gerena, the man who actually carried out the Wells Fargo robbery, and a good share of the $7 million.
The FBI claims that Gerena and over $4 million of the loot eventually wound up in Cuba, which has been identified as having close ties with the Macheteros.
Rodríquez testified that a "source" in the San Juan FBI office
tipped Segarra's father last summer that his son would be arrested shortly.
Indeed, word got out to many of the suspects that arrests were impending.