Downgraded, Couple in Spy Ring Sentenced

Associated Press - Friday, Feb. 4, 2000

Justice4JP Prefacing Note

The following article illustrates the US Government's tilt towards downgrading charges for certain episodes of espionage, in a quasi act of forgiveness. The downgraded charges carry lighter sentences than charges for the actual crimes would. The case cited below is one of full blown espionage, representing Cuban activities to collect war plan material in order to fuel Cuban terorism. Nevertheless in what is apparently a deal for cooperation, the US downgraded the charges of these spies from espionage to "unregistered foreign agents". This is tanatamount to redefining these

hostile spies

as unregistered


for a foreign government!

The proscution was fully able to make a deal on sentencing - if that is what was needed to secure the cooperation of these spies - without downgrading the charges against them. The downgrade is essentially a whitewash of the crime, and a kind of forgiveness. This kind of judicial over-extending by the US occurs in certain cases only, often for non-allied nations. It undermines the principle of equal justice and perverts the American system of justice.


-- A couple have been sentenced to more than three years in prison for attempting to infiltrate U.S. military installations for the Cuban government.

"I ask forgiveness from this country for all the opportunities it gave me and for what I've done," said Amarylis Silverio Santos, 37, who was given a 3½-year sentence Wednesday. Her husband, 38-year-old Joseph Santos, was sentenced to four years.

In all, 14 people were accused of trying to penetrate U.S. military bases, infiltrate anti-Castro exile groups and manipulate U.S. media and political organizations. Authorities describe the spy ring as the largest Cuban espionage operation uncovered in the United States in decades.

Authorities said the couple attempted to infiltrate the U.S. Southern Command, which controls U.S. military activity in Latin America. Although State Department
officials have said their efforts were largely unsuccessful, the couple filed at least one report.

They pleaded guilty in October 1998 to one count each of conspiracy to act as an agent [lobbyist] for a foreign government without notifying the U.S. attorney general.

They faced a maximum of five years in prison [on the down-graded charge].

Three others besides the couple have pleaded guilty; others are scheduled to go on trial in May.

NB: Items in square brackets above were inserted by Justice4JP for clarification.

See Also:

  • Cuban Spy page
  • Unequal Justice
  • Comparative Sentence Chart