Former U.S. Ambassador Accused of Being Cuban Agent Signals Guilty Plea

A former U.S. ambassador accused of working for decades as a secret agent for Cuba said on Thursday that he would plead guilty, a move that would bring to a swift end to the case surrounding one of the biggest national security breaches in years.

Manuel Rocha, 73, told Judge Beth Bloom in federal court in Miami that he would change his plea, signaling that he is prepared to plead guilty. He was charged in December with acting as an agent of a foreign government and defrauding the United States. He also faces charges of wire fraud and making false statements to obtain and use a U.S. passport.

Mr. Rocha is expected to plead guilty to two counts of conspiring to act as a foreign agent. Each count carries a maximum sentence of five to 10 years in prison. Prosecutors are expected to drop the other charges; the wire fraud charge carried a 20-year maximum sentence. He had pleaded not guilty in mid-February.

Mr. Rocha’s lawyer, Jacqueline M. Arango, indicated in court on Thursday that she and prosecutors have reached an agreement on his possible prison term, The Associated Press reported, though details were not made public. He is scheduled to formally plead guilty and be sentenced on April 12.

The indictment said that Mr. Rocha, a career diplomat and former ambassador to Bolivia who briefly worked in a White House role under President Bill Clinton, had aided the Cuban government since at least 1981. He was posted at the U.S. mission in Havana during the 1990s.

“This action exposes one of the highest-reaching and longest-lasting infiltrations of the U.S. government by a foreign agent,” Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said after Mr. Rocha’s arrest in December.

Related Articles

Back to top button