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Woman Sentenced in Wells Fargo Robbery

November 1, 1988

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ A woman was sentenced to five years in prison for her role in the $7 million Wells Fargo robbery, but was spared a $10,000 fine for plotting to spend some of the stolen cash to pay for a toy giveaway.

U.S. District Judge T. Emmet Clarie sentenced Luz Berrios Berrios, a 38- year-old occupational therapist, on Monday.

″We hoped for more, but it didn’t surprise us,″ defense attorney Jacob Wieselman said.

Federal prosecutors declined to comment on the sentence.

Berrios pleaded guilty in September to a charge of conspiracy to transport stolen money. The loot was taken from a Wells Fargo depot in West Hartford in September 1983. Authorities say it was the nation’s second-largest cash heist.

Berrios admitted to conspiring with others in Puerto Rico to send $5,000 to $12,000 to Hartford to pay for toys given away on Jan. 6, 1985, the day some Latin American countries traditionally exchange gifts.

She said she presumed the money was stolen from Wells Fargo.

The government contends that Berrios is a leader of Los Macheteros, a terrorist group seeking Puerto Rican independence. The group has claimed a role in attacks on U.S. installations in Puerto Rico.

The government contends the Wells Fargo heist was masterminded by Los Macheteros and carried out by a Wells Fargo security guard who has never been captured.

According to a pre-sentencing report by authorities, Berrios was the Macheteros payroll from September 1980 until May 1985, and was paid $500 a month.

Berrios’ husband, Juan E. Segarra Palmer, and four other men charged in the robbery are on trial before Clarie. Nine others are awaiting trial, and one other defendant has pleaded guilty.

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