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Wells Fargo Defendant Is Released

March 7, 1988

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ A 31-month pretrial detention ended Monday for a defendant in the Wells Fargo robbery case after a judge approved arrangements for his $1 million bond.

Juan Segarra Palmer was released after U.S. District Judge Peter Dorsey signed the papers. Segarra Palmer and another Wells Fargo defendant, Filiberto Ojeda Rios, had been held without bond longer than any other defendants in federal judicial history.

Segarra Palmer’s father, Enrique Segarra, testified before a U.S. magistrate earlier Monday that his son would be disgraced ″personally and politically″ if he failed to appear for trial on charges in the 1983 robbery of $7 million from a Wells Fargo depot in West Hartford.

″He is a person of great character,″ Enrique Segarra said. ″If he said he will be here, he will be here.″

″I’m happy, but I have to say the real issue is not my freedom,″ Harvard- educated Segarra Palmer, 38, said as he walked out of court. ″The real issue is the freedom of Puerto Rico and preventive detention.″

Segarra Palmer, who was arrested in August 1985 in Puerto Rico, was held without bond until last month, when U.S. District Judge T. Emmet Clarie set bond at $1 million.

Clarie has, however, refused to do the same for Ojeda Rios, saying the defendant could flee to avoid prosecution.

Segarra Palmer’s bond is secured partly by $500,000 in property owned by 11 people in the town of Naranjito, Puerto Rico, the hometown of his wife, Luz Berrios Berrios, another Wells Fargo defendant who has been free on bond for some time.

The other $500,000 is unsecured, but his parents and three siblings signed agreements to pay the money should Segarra Palmer not appear for trial.

Under terms of his bond, Segarra Palmer cannot leave Hartford, must be home by 10 p.m. each night and agreed that the government has the right to try him in absentia should he flee. The government also plans to require him to wear an electronic bracelet to monitor his movements, but none of the devices are available in Hartford, said his attorney, Leonard Weinglass.

Sixteen people are awaiting trial in the Wells Fargo robbery, which the government contends was masterminded by Los Matcheros, a radical, sometimes violent group advocating Puerto Rican independence.

Victor Gerena of Hartford, the Wells Fargo guard authorities allege carried out the robbery, hasn’t been captured. Prosecutors say they think he is in Cuba.

Pretrial hearings in the case began 14 months ago and are expected to last several more months.