LAWFUEL – US Law, Law Jobs – Defendant Carlos Alvarez, and his wife, defendant Elsa Alvarez, were sentenced today by U.S. District Court Judge K. Michael Moore in federal court in Miami on charges of conspiracy and misprision of a felony. Specifically, Carlos Alvarez was sentenced to 60 months’ imprisonment for conspiring to act as a covert agent of the Republic of Cuba within the United States, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371. Elsa Alvarez was sentenced to 36 months’ imprisonment for her role in concealing her husband’s criminal participation in the conspiracy, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 4.
According to the facts admitted at the time of his guilty plea, Carlos Alvarez worked for nearly thirty years as a covert intelligence agent on behalf of the Cuban government. Beginning in1977 and continuing through 2005, defendant Alvarez met with individuals who worked for the Cuban Intelligence Service and, at their instruction, gathered and transmitted information concerning, among other things, prominent individuals and groups within the Cuban exile community in the United States. Carlos Alvarez received his instructions from the Cuban Intelligence Service through personal meetings, messages written on water-soluble paper, coded pager messages, and encrypted electronic communications.
The electronic communications involved shortwave radio messages from the Cuban Intelligence Service, which Carlos Alvarez decrypted using a computer disk. Carlos Alvarez then gathered the requested information and compiled written reports, which he encrypted using another computer disk. Carlos Alvarez signed these reports with his codename, “David.” Carlos Alvarez mailed these reports to various post office boxes in New York, and then burned in his backyard, and attempted to erase on his computer, evidence that the reports had been written.
On occasion, Carlos Alvarez received new decryption and encryption computer disks from the Cuban Intelligence Service to ensure that the communications would remain secret. When Carlos Alvarez picked up the new computer disks, he sometimes transported them hidden in a portfolio or briefcase with a false compartment. Carlos Alvarez and his coconspirators ceased to communicate in this manner in or about 1998, after the arrest of the Wasp Spy Network in South Florida.
Carlos Alvarez communicated with his coconspirators through personal meetings in Cuba and elsewhere. To this end, Alvarez’s position as an educator at Florida International University enabled him to meet individuals on whom the Cuban Intelligence Service wanted information and to travel to Cuba to communicate his information.
Carlos Alvarez’s criminal conduct continued through on or about June 22, 2005, the date that he spoke to the FBI regarding his illegal involvement with the Cuban Intelligence Service. Prior to this date, Carlos Alvarez never notified the Attorney General that he would be acting as an agent of the Republic of Cuba, and never withdrew from the criminal conspiracy.
According to facts admitted at the time of her guilty plea, Elsa Alvarez worked to conceal her husband’s spying activities from United States law enforcement authorities for over 20 years. Beginning as early as in or around 1982, defendant Elsa Alvarez became aware that her husband, Carlos Alvarez, was involved in a conspiracy to serve as a covert intelligence agent for the Republic of Cuba. Despite this knowledge, Elsa Alvarez harbored Carlos Alvarez, allowed the use of their home for the exchange of electronic communications with the Republic of Cuba, and, on certain occasions, accompanied him when he traveled to meet with agents of the Cuban Intelligence Service, all of which helped conceal the true nature of his activities. Moreover, Elsa Alvarez failed to make Carlos Alvarez’ illegal involvement with the Republic of Cuba known to some judge or other person in civil or military authority under the United States. Elsa Alvarez’s conduct continued through on or about July 5, 2005, the date that Elsa Alvarez spoke to the FBI regarding Carlos Alvarez’ illegal involvement with the Cuban Intelligence Service. Elsa Alvarez, like her husband Carlos Alvarez, was employed as a professor at Florida International University.
United States Attorney Acosta stated, “All persons seeking the benefits of U.S. citizenship must take an oath to ‘absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which [he or she] ha[s] heretofore been a subject.’ Carlos and Elsa Alvarez paid only lip service to that oath, deciding to secretly serve the interests of a foreign master. Today’s sentences reflect the seriousness of their crimes.”
Special Agent in Charge Jonathan I. Solomon stated, “Loyalty to the United States is the responsibility of all citizens. The Alvarez’ ignored that responsibility, broke the law, and must now face the consequences of their actions. This investigation demonstrates our ongoing commitment to protecting the national security of our country.”
Special Agent in Charge Carol Kisthardt stated, “The guilty pleas and sentencing of Carlos and Elsa Alvarez are the culmination of years of investigative work. NCIS will continue to pursue the threat posed by the Cuban Directorate of Intelligence and other Foreign Intelligence Services around the world. The successful conclusion of the Alvarez investigation is another example of the effective cooperation between members of the U.S. Counterintelligence Community.”
Today’s announcement was made jointly by Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher, R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Jonathan I. Solomon, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Field Office, and Carol Kisthardt, Special Agent in Charge, Naval Criminal Investigative Service (“NCIS”), Southeast Field Office. Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service for their work in this investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Brian Frazier and Matthew Axelrod and by Senior Trial Attorney Clifford Rones of the Counterespionage Section of the Department of Justice.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls . Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov/ or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov/.