Yugoslav Consul General Accused of Providing Cover for Spies
CHICAGO (AP) _ The Yugoslav consul general here, indicted for allegedly laundering $1.5 million, gave diplomatic cover to two men involved in smuggling documents and computer information to Yugoslavia, officials said.
An affidavit by Louise Hodess, a U.S. Customs Service agent, alleges that Bahrudin Bijedic, Chicago consul general, provided cover for the men, both of whom are American citizens, the Chicago Tribune reported today.
According to the affidavit, one of the men, Yugoslav-born Vjekoslov Spanjol, of Plano, Texas, was ″the second in command of Yugoslavian Intelligence in the United States.″
The other man was identified as Hubert F. Cole of Carrollton, Texas.
Bijedic, Spanjol, Cole and two other men were indicted Dec. 1 by a federal grand jury in Philadelphia on charges they engaged in the money-laundering scheme.
Spanjol and Cole were able to get documents and computer information from Department of Defense contractors in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and smuggle the data to Belgrade via diplomatic pouch, the newspaper said.
Ms. Hodess’ affidavit said all of the defense contractors involved had contracts with an office-cleaning service operated by Spanjol out of Richardson, Texas. It alleged that Spanjol’s employees obtained discarded documents and other information from the contractors’ trash.
Federal law prohibits the delivery of information relating to the national defense to any foreign government.
The affidavit was filed as part of an ongoing investigation of Bijedic and the others, the newspaper said.
Earlier this month, Bijedic, Cole, Spanjol and two other men were charged with funneling $1.5 million to bank accounts controlled by an undercover U.S. Customs agent. LBS Bank of New York Inc., the U.S. branch of a Yugoslavian bank, also was indicted.
Assistant U.S. Attorney William Cook, at the request of the U.S. attorney’s office in Philadelphia, asked Wednesday that a seal on the affidavit be lifted. U.S. Magistrate Elaine Bucklo granted the motion, allowing the case file to be open to the public.
Cook declined to comment on the contents of the affidavit.
The affidavit disclosed that Cole held several meetings with an undercover U.S. Customs agent, which were secretly tape-recorded, and stated that he and Spanjol already were involved with laundering money in Yugoslavia for a drug dealer in San Antonio.
Before being conferred diplomatic cover by Bijedic, Cole said he and Spanjol concealed the currency in their luggage, the affidavit states.