Crime

Romance overseas gets former U.S. Army intelligence officer three years probation

Headquarters for Southern Command.
Headquarters for Southern Command. Miami Herald

A former U.S. Army intelligence officer and Southern Command contractor has been sentenced to three years probation after pleading guilty to failing to adequately report a romantic relationship with a Colombian woman.

Pedro Nuñez, from Puerto Rico, was sentenced in Miami federal court by U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro, according to court records.

The sentence closes a chapter in the case, which arose in 2011 when Nuñez did not accurately report his relationship with the Colombian, identified in court records by the initials M.S.S.C.

Nuñez, 55, appeared in court in October last year and was freed on bond. He was arraigned Nov. 3, and later pleaded guilty.

According to court records, including a detailed explanation submitted by Nuñez’s attorney, James A. DeMiles, the case began to unfold in May 2004 when his job led him to Colombia where a year later he met M.S.S.C. who worked as an apartment rental agent for the U.S. embassy and its military group in Bogotá.

“A romantic interest was ignited when Mr. Nuñez met M.S.S.C. in a social setting for coffee on one occasion in July 2009,” according to a DeMiles’ memorandum submitted for his client’s sentencing Jan. 21. “Mr. Nuñez’s romantic relationship with M.S.S.C. blossomed between the months of July and October of 2009.”

Eventually, M.S.S.C. moved into Nuñez’s apartment.

It was at this point where Nuñez took steps to hide the true nature of his relationship from officials assigned to monitor the foreign contacts of American intelligence personnel.

“Mr. Nuñez failed to submit a Foreign Contact Report documenting his personal contact and relationship with M.S.S.C. in a timely fashion,” according to the sentencing memorandum, which contains new information on the case. “Mr. Nuñez also failed to file a Cohabitation Request with either the Regional Security Office in Colombia or the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) prior to cohabitating with M.S.S.C.”

It wasn’t until Nuñez traveled to Miami for a few weeks on Sept. 28, 2011 that his supervisor asked him if he had submitted a Foreign Contact Report regarding M.S.S.C. with the DIA through te Southern Command in Doral. Though his relationship with the Colombian was known to colleagues and friends, Nuñez acknowledged that he had not filed the report.

Nuñez immediately filed it, but he was not candid about his relationship with the Colombian.

“Mr. Nuñez was charged in this case with making a false statement on or about September 28, 2011 in Miami-Dade County, for writing in a Foreign Contact Questionnaire that he had contact with a Colombian woman…on May 6, 2011 and further answering that they had ‘professional/business related contact over 3 years,’ when in fact Mr. Nuñez has been involved in a romantic relationship and cohabitating with M.S.S.C. since October of 2009.”

In the memo, Nuñez expressed regret.

“Pedro Nuñez admitted that he has made a mistake, but most important [is] that he is willing to do whatever it takes to repair the damage and restore his reputation,” the memo says. “Mr. Nuñez submits that he is genuinely sorry for his actions in this case.”

As a result, attorney DeMiles recommended that Nuñez receive three years probation as a sentence instead of prison time — which the judge granted.

Had Nuñez gone to trial and was found guilty by a jury, the maximum penalty would have been five years in the penitentiary and three years supervised release, according to court documents.

DeMiles portrayed Nuñez as a patriot and defender of American national security in his military and civilian intelligence career.

“Mr. Nuñez has truly dedicated his entire career (military and civilian) to fighting for, and protecting the interests of the United States of America,” DeMiles said in the memo.

Nuñez retired from the U.S. Army as a major and had served as an intelligence officer, according to the memorandum. Upon retirement, he became a private contractor serving as a regional engagements officer within the U.S. Southern Command’s directorate for the intelligence engagements division, the memo said.

If there’s a silver lining in the case, it’s that M.S.S.C. is now Nuñez’s fiancée and they are planning their wedding, court records show.

Alfonso Chardy: 305-376-3435, @AlfonsoChardy

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