Man on The Run Pleads Guilty in Robbery
A suspect in one of the largest armored truck heists in U.S. history pleaded guilty in federal court in Hartford in a deal that calls for a five-year prison sentence.
Norberto Gonzalez Claudio, 66, was one of the last people arrested in connection with a 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
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 entered the plea.
Sentencing is set for Sept. 27 and supporters said he will make a political statement at sentencing.
His family hopes that he will be sentenced to serve closer to their home in Puerto Rico.
Norberto is a happy person because he is a fighter for the Independence of Puerto Rico,” his brother, Orlando Gonzalez-Claudio, 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 last year 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 last year to conspiring to rob the Wells Fargo Armored Service Corp. and to transporting the stolen money to Mexico.
Authorities have said the robbery was committed to help fund the activities of Los Macheteros, a clandestine organization that seeks Puerto Rican independence.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office hasn’t released details about the plea agreement yet, but Gonzalez Claudio is likely he spend many years in jail.