Former US ambassador, NSC official admits to acting as secret agent for Cuba, learns fate: DOJ

A former U.S. ambassador to Bolivia and member of the National Security Council pleaded guilty Friday to secretly acting as an agent of the government of the Republic of Cuba for decades, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

A federal judge sentenced Victor Manuel Rocha, 73, of Miami, to 15 years in prison for decades of defying the U.S. government on a “secret intelligence gathering mission” on behalf of communist Cuba.

“Today’s arguments and sentencing bring to an end more than 40 years of betrayal and deception by these defendants,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “Rocha’s admission that he acted as an agent of the Cuban government while holding a number of positions of trust in the U.S. government is a stunning betrayal of the American people and a lie that every oath he has sworn to the U.S.” I admitted that.”

In exchange for the guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to drop more than a dozen other charges, according to the Associated Press.

Former U.S. ambassador, NSC member indicted as secret agent for communist Cuba for decades: Department of Justice

Former U.S. ambassador arrested in Florida on suspicion of acting as a Cuban agent, Associated Press sources report (Photo by GONZALO ESPINOZA/AFP via Getty Images)

Mr. Rocha is a former U.S. State Department official who served on the National Security Council from 1994 to 1995 and as U.S. ambassador to Bolivia from 2000 to 2002.

“Victor Manuel Rocha had been acting in secret for decades as an agent of a hostile foreign power. Rocha underestimated them.” The prosecutors and prosecutors who worked tirelessly to bring him to justice for betraying his oath to this country believed that the details of his secret mission would never be told. Rocha underestimated them.” Law enforcement officers had the same skills,” said Markenzie LaPointe, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland previously said, “This action exposes one of the most extensive and long-lasting infiltrations of the United States government by foreign agents.”

maximum penalty

U.S. District Court Judge Beth Bloom ruled on counts 1 and 2 of the indictment, which charges the United States with acting as an agent of a foreign government, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and acting as an agent of a foreign government. accepted the guilty plea. We will notify you as required by law.

The court then sentenced Rocha to the statutory maximum penalty for his conviction: 15 years in prison, a $500,000 fine, three years of supervised release, and a special assessment.

The court also imposed significant restrictions on Rocha.

Former US ambassador accused of secretly working on Cuba’s behalf pleads not guilty

Victor Manuel Rocha

Victor Manuel Rocha poses for a photo in his Miami office in January 2003. (Raul Rubiera/Miami Herald/Associated Press)

Under the terms of the parties’ plea agreement, Mr. Rocha must cooperate with the United States, including assisting with damage assessments related to his work on behalf of the Republic of Cuba. Mr. Rocha must forfeit all future retirement benefits, including pension payments, owed by the United States based on his former service at the State Department.

You must also transfer to the United States any benefits you may be entitled to in connection with any publications relating to your criminal activity or service to the United States government.

“Despite his oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution, Mr. Rocha betrayed the United States by secretly working as a Cuban intelligence agent for decades,” said FBI Director of National Security Larissa L. Knapp. Stated. “After years of lying and endangering national security and the American people, he finally admitted responsibility for his actions and received the maximum prison sentence. This should send a message to our adversaries that we will work tirelessly to thwart intelligence agencies and criminals of all kinds, working with them against U.S. interests and punishing them to the fullest extent of the law. prosecute. ”

Confidential information

According to a criminal complaint from the Justice Department, Mr. Rocha used his work at the State Department from 1981 to 2002 to obtain classified information and influence U.S. foreign policy.

After working at the State Department, Rocha transferred in 2006 as an advisor to the commander of U.S. Southern Command, the joint U.S. military command that covers Cuba.

Former US ambassador calls Castro ‘commander’, labels US ‘enemy’: Department of Justice

Victor Manuel Rocha, who served as the US ambassador to Bolivia from 2000 to 2002, appears in an interview with an undercover FBI agent in Miami on February 17, 2023. (U.S. District Court/Southern District of Florida/Source via Reuters)

The Justice Department said Mr. Rocha provided false and misleading information to the United States to maintain his secret status, traveled outside the United States to meet with Cuban intelligence agents, and provided false and misleading information to obtain travel documents. He said that he made statements that invited

Praise Castro

According to the complaint, Rocha made a series of recorded confessions to an undercover FBI agent posing as a Cuban agent, saying he had contacted him on WhatsApp saying he had received a message “from a friend in Havana.”

Rocha praised the deceased communist leader fidel castrocalled him “Commander,” branded the United States an “enemy,” and bragged about having worked for more than 40 years as Cuba’s mole at the center of the U.S. foreign policy world.

Former US ambassador arrested on suspicion of secretly acting as Cuba’s agent: Report

Bolivian President Hugo Banzer shakes hands with Victor Manuel Rocha

Bolivian President Hugo Banzer (left) shakes hands with then-U.S. Ambassador to Bolivia Victor Manuel Rocha during a ceremony at the Government Palace in La Paz on August 3, 2000. (Reuters/DM/JP/HB)

Garland also told undercover agents that his efforts to infiltrate the U.S. government were “meticulous and very disciplined,” adding, “What has been done so far is revolutionary. ,” Garland said earlier, repeatedly touting the importance of his efforts. .

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Records show Rocha’s 25-year diplomatic career was spent under both Democratic and Republican administrations, most of it in Latin America during the Cold War.

Fox News Digital’s Sarah Rumpf-Whitten and Danielle Wallace contributed to this report.