Thursday, October 20, 2005

Michael Ray Aquino Pleads Not Guilty.

Two updates in the Aragoncillo & Aquino spy case.

NEWARK, N.J. -- A former Filipino police official pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges he passed classified information about Filipino leaders obtained from an FBI intelligence analyst to current and former officials of that nation.

Michael Ray Aquino, clad in a green jail uniform and shackled at the wrists and ankles, did not speak during the 30-minute hearing before U.S. District Judge William H. Walls. The plea was entered by his lawyer, Mark A. Berman.

The FBI analyst, Leandro Aragoncillo, has been in plea negotiations, leaving the possibility that Aquino could face the charges alone. Aragoncillo, a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in the Philippines, had worked in the vice president's office at the White House as a U.S. Marine.

Both men were arrested in September and have been held in federal custody without bail since then.

No trial date for Aquino was set. Assistant U.S. Attorney Karl H. Buch said a new indictment with more charges would probably be brought against Aquino.
Source: Newsday - Former Filipino Official Pleads Not Guilty

Michael Ray Aquino has an interesting history. He is accused of murdering a media figure in the Philippines. I will gather up the details later one. Another story dated on the 10/20/2005 also talks specifically about more upcoming charges against Aquino.

"The indictment that stands today is not the indictment that the government will go to trial on," Assistant U.S. Attorney Karl H. Buch said during the arraignment of Michael Ray Aquino. Buch did not specify what the additional changes might be.
Source: Newsday - Former Filipino Official Pleads Not Guilty

Well, they are probably looking into other charges that will help to minimize the amount of classified information that must be handled in pressing the case.

The contents of the classified information [leaked by Aragoncillo] have not been made public, but, according to the FBI complaint, appear related to efforts to unseat Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Outside court, Berman [Aquino's attorney] said Aquino "is not a supporter of the present president" and was friends with an opposition Philippine senator. The politician has said he received "shallow" information from Aquino and Aragoncillo.

Aquino, who rejected a plea deal, had known Aragoncillo for about a year, Berman said.

"He definitely had documents, had information from Aragoncillo," Berman said, but reiterated his claim that nothing was marked as classified, and Aquino had no reason to believe they were.
Source: Newsday - Former Filipino Official Pleads Not Guilty

Hmmm. Erap (Joseph Estrada who was President of the Philippines and deposed by current president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo GMA) has admitted to receiving this information and my guess is Senator Lacson is the senator referred to above. Does this mean extradition request?

May 5, 2006.
The latest is that Mr. Aragoncillo has plead guilty.