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Hartford Wells Fargo Trial: 1988-89 - The Perfect Crime?, Background To The Robbery, Trial Focuses On Conspiracy, Mystery And Controversy Linger On

maldonado charges imprisonment stolen

Defendants: Antonio Camacho Negron, Juan E. Segarra Palmer, Roberto J. Maldonado Rivera, Carlos M. Ayes Suarez, Norman Ramirez Talavera
Crimes Charged: A 17-count indictment that included charges of conspiracy in belonging to a corrupt organization, planning a robbery, transporting the stolen money across state lines, helping the robber to escape, and laundering the money
Chief Defense Lawyers: Juan Ramon Acevedo, Linda A. Backiel, James Bergenn, Roberto J. Maldonado Rivera, Leonard Weinglass
Chief Prosecutors: Leonard Boyle, Albert S. Dabrowski, Carmen Espinosa Van Kirk
Judge: T. Emmett Claire
Place: Hartford, Connecticut
Date of Trial: September 6, 1988—April 10, 1989
Verdicts: Ayes: innocent of all charges; Segarra: guilty of 11 counts involving three major charges (conspiracy, planning a robbery, transporting stolen money); Maldonado and Ramirez: guilty of conspiracy; Camacho: guilty of transporting stolen money
Sentences: Segarra: 65 years imprisonment (reduced to 55 on appeal); Camacho: 15 years imprisonment; Maldonado: 5 years imprisonment and $100,000 fine; Ramirez: 5 years imprisonment and $50,000 fine

SIGNIFICANCE: What began with a robbery developed into a trial for conspiracy involving alleged terrorists linked to the decades-old struggle by small groups of Puerto Ricans seeking total independence from the United States. The known perpetrator of the robbery was not present and the government could not establish the true nature of the conspiracy, so there were charges of a political "show trial," although years later the government's position would be considerably vindicated.

About 9:30 P.M. on September 12, 1983, Victor Gerena and a coworker arrived back at the Wells Fargo depot in West Hartford, Connecticut, after a day spent collecting several million dollars from banks and other clients of the armed car service. Their boss had arrived somewhat earlier with his truckload of another $5 million. As they were occupied with various chores, Gerena suddenly pulled the pistol from the boss's holster and ordered the two men to lie on the floor. After handcuffing his boss's wrists and taping and tying up his coworker, he injected the two men with some substance that in fact had no effect. But as the two men lay there powerless for some 90 minutes, Gerena carried some $7.1 million into the beat-up Buick LeSabre he had rented two days earlier, then drove off into the night.

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