LAWFUEL – US Law News, Law Jobs – R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Kenneth L. Wainstein, Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division of the Department of Justice, and Jonathan I. Solomon, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Field Office, announced today the guilty pleas of defendants, Carlos Alvarez, and his wife, Elsa Alvarez, before Judge K. Michael Moore in United States District Court in Miami. Carlos Alvarez pled guilty to conspiring to act as a covert agent of the Republic of Cuba operating within the United States, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371. He faces a statutory maximum penalty of five (5) years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. Elsa Alvarez pled guilty to misprision of a felony, that is, to concealing her husband’s criminal participation in that conspiracy, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 4. She faces a statutory maximum penalty of three (3) years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing for both defendants is scheduled for February 27, 2007.
According to the facts admitted by Carlos Alvarez during the hearing, Alvarez worked for nearly thirty years as a covert intelligence agent on behalf of the Cuban government. Beginning in1977 and continuing through 2005, Carlos 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. 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 Alvarez decrypted using a computer disk. Alvarez then gathered the requested information and compiled written reports, which he encrypted using another computer
disk. Alvarez signed these reports with his codename, “David.” 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 Alvarez picked up the new computer disks, he sometimes transported them hidden in a portfolio or briefcase with a false compartment. 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.
Alvarez then 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.
Alvarez’s criminal conduct continued through on or about June 22, 2005, the date that Alvarez spoke to the FBI regarding his illegal involvement with the Cuban Intelligence Service. Prior to this date, 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 by Elsa Alvarez at the plea hearing, 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, “The United States Oath of Citizenship requires individuals seeking citizenship 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.’ Today’s guilty pleas serve as a stark reminder that there are among us some who, while enjoying the freedom and liberty our great nation offers, continue to serve the interests of another master.”
“This investigation unmasked a Cuban intelligence agent who served for many years as an educator at a prominent university, all the while spying on South Florida’s Cuban exile community for his Cuban handlers. Today’s plea demonstrates our firm commitment to protect our country and our citizens against the agents of foreign powers,” said Kenneth L. Wainstein, Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division of the Department of Justice.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Jonathan Solomon added, “Loyalty to the United States is a responsibility and privilege of all citizens. The Alvarezes ignored their responsibility and chose instead to provide information to a totalitarian regime where there are no freedoms. With that decision, they broke the law, breached their loyalty, and must now face the consequences of their actions.”
Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for their work in this investigation. The case is being 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/.