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Former US ambassador charged with spying for Cuba sentenced to 15 years in prison

A former U.S. ambassador who has been previously charged with spying for Cuba was sentenced to 15 years in prison Friday, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Victor Manuel Rocha, 73 who previously served as U.S. ambassador to Bolivia from 2000 to 2002, pled guilty to two counts that charge him with “conspiring to act as an agent of a foreign government and conspiring to defraud the United States and acting as an agent of a foreign government without notice as required by law,” according to a press release from the DOJ. After pleading guilty, he was sentenced to “the statutory maximum penalty” of a decade-and-a-half in prison.

“Today’s plea and sentencing brings to an end more than four decades of betrayal and deceit by the defendant,” Assistant Attorney General Matt Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division said in the release. 

“Rocha admitted to acting as an agent of the Cuban government at the same time he held numerous positions of trust in the U.S. government, a staggering betrayal of the American people and an acknowledgement that every oath he took to the United States was a lie,” Olsen continued.

Rocha told the judge overseeing his case, U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom, back in late February that he would plead guilty to charges the DOJ brought against him in Dec. 2023. 

Rocha was accused of helping Cuba by utilizing access to classified information and foreign policy influence, including leaving the U.S. to meet with Cuban representatives. 

“I am mindful that Rocha’s decades-long criminal activity on behalf of the Cuban Government is especially painful for many in South Florida,” U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Markenzy Lapointe said in the release. “Rocha’s willingness to cooperate, as required by his plea agreement, is important, but does not change the seriousness of his misconduct or his clandestine breach of the trust placed in him.”

The Hill has reached out to a lawyer for Rocha.

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