Norberto Gonzalez-Claudio Sentenced for Role in 1983 Wells Fargo Robbery, Illegal Possession of Machine Gun
|U.S. Attorney’s Office November 14, 2012|
The United States Attorneys for the District of Connecticut and the District of Puerto Rico announced that Norberto Gonzalez-Claudio, 67, was sentenced today by Senior United States District Judge Alfred V. Covello in Hartford to 60 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for his involvement in a 1983 armored truck robbery of approximately $7 million in West Hartford, Connecticut, and for his illegal possession of a machine gun at the time of his arrest in May 2011.
“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,” said David B. Fein, U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut. “Their work, which continues, demonstrates the resolve of law enforcement in the pursuit of justice.”
“The pursuit of justice, and the inherent desire to investigate those who commit crimes and to bring them to successful prosecution, is the simple fuel that drives the agents of the FBI,” said Kimberly K. Mertz, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Connecticut. “Today’s sentencing of Mr. Gonzalez-Claudio is an important part of the judicial process but also serves as a reminder that the FBI’s work is not done. Justice in this case is not yet absolute and will not be until Victor Gerena, the alleged mastermind of the Wells Fargo robbery, is captured and himself brought to justice.”
According to court documents and statements made in court, Gonzalez-Claudio conspired with others to rob approximately $7 million in cash from the Wells Fargo Armored Service Corporation in West Hartford and to transport the stolen money to Mexico. In pleading guilty, Gonzalez-Claudio acknowledged that he and other co-conspirators approved and authorized the robbery, which occurred on September 12, 1983.
During previous trials of several co-defendants, the government introduced evidence that the robbery was perpetrated to fund the activities of Los Macheteros, a clandestine organization that seeks Puerto Rican independence.
Gonzalez-Claudio, who had been a fugitive for more than 25 years, was arrested in Cayey, Puerto Rico, on May 10, 2011. He has been detained since his arrest.
On June 15, 2012, Gonzalez-Claudio pleaded guilty to count 12 of a superseding indictment, which charged him with foreign transportation of stolen money, and count 16, which charged him with conspiracy to rob federally insured bank funds, to commit theft from interstate shipment, and to transport stolen money in interstate and foreign commerce. He also pleaded guilty to a separate count of illegal possession of a machine gun, which was found in his residence following his arrest.
Gonzalez-Claudio was sentenced to 60 months of imprisonment on the Wells Fargo robbery charges and a concurrent 37-month prison term on the machine gun charge. He also was ordered to pay $7.1 million in restitution.
The government has not recovered any of the Wells Fargo robbery proceeds.
Of the 19 defendants charged in this case, one fugitive, Victor Manuel Gerena, is still being sought. Gerena is alleged to have carried out the armed robbery in West Hartford. The FBI is offering a reward of up to $1 million for information leading directly to Gerena’s arrest.
As to Gerena, U.S. Attorney Fein stressed that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in New Haven and San Juan, with the assistance of the United States Marshals Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Henry K. Kopel and Paul H. McConnell, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Leonard C. Boyle of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ilianys Rivera Miranda of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico.