A man convicted in one of the largest armored truck heists in U.S. history will serve a five-year prison sentence, followed by three years of supervised release.
Norberto Gonzalez Claudio, 67, was one of the last people charged in connection with the robbery of $7 million from an armored truck in a depot in West Hartford in 1983 to finance a war for Puerto Rico’s independence against the United States.
Gonzalez isn't accused of directly participating in the heist. The robbery was orchestrated by Los Macheteros, a group that claimed responsibility for robberies, murders and bombings in the 1970s and `80s in the name of Puerto Rican independence, according to officials.
Gonzalez pleaded guilty to charges of foreign transportation of stolen money, conspiracy to rob federally insured bank funds and illegal possession of an automatic weapon.
His wife, two children, brother and grandchildren were in court when he received his sentence Wednesday.
He will serve time in Florida, North Carolina or Tennessee.
His family previously said they hoped that he will be sentenced to serve closer to their home in Puerto Rico.
"I commend the FBI in Connecticut and Puerto Rico and the U.S. Marshals Service for their excellent work in apprehending this defendant and others who eluded capture after this substantial robbery,” David B. Fein, U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut said. “Their work, which continues, demonstrates the resolve of law enforcement in the pursuit of justice.”
"Norberto is a happy person because he is a fighter for the Independence of Puerto Rico,” his brother, Orlando Gonzalez-Claudio, previously said. “The fact that he’s in jail fulfilling his responsibility makes us very proud of him as his family and also as Puerto Ricans. … There shouldn’t be a sentence for someone who fights for independence.”
The FBI arrested Claudio in Puerto Rico. He was found in the southern mountain town of Cayey, 25 years after the robbery.
A federal arrest warrant was issued on Aug. 23, 1985. charging him with obstruction of commerce by robbery and conspiracy.
Another federal arrest warrant was issued on March 21, 1986, in New Haven, Connecticut, charging Gonzalez-Claudio with bank robbery, aggravated robbery, theft from interstate shipment, foreign and interstate transportation of stolen money, and conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery. Now, the FBI domestic terrorism page includes Gonzalez Claudio's photo with the word "captured" prominently in red.
Another brother, Avelino Gonzalez Claudio, pleaded guilty to conspiring to rob the Wells Fargo Armored Service Corp. and to transporting the stolen money to Mexico.
Of the 19 defendants charged in this case, one fugitive, Victor Manuel Gerena, is still being sought, according to the U.S. Attorney.
Gerena is believed to have carried out the armed robbery in West Hartford and the FBI is offering a reward of up to $1 million for information leading directly to Gerena’s arrest.