Local News

More Than $18K Found In Car When Passaro Was Arrested, Authorities Say

Posted June 8, 2005

— U.S. Marshals said Wednesday that a Lillington man and former CIA contractor accused of assaulting his girlfriend had more than $18,000 on him when he was arrested last week.

David Passaro, 38, had been out on bond pending his trial in connection with the beating death of an Afghan prisoner. Passaro is the first civilian to be prosecuted on charges of mistreating a military detainee in the U.S. war on terrorism.

He was arrested last week after his girlfriend, Bonnie Heart, 46, told authorities that he ripped out her earrings and pushed her into a door, causing her to fall down stairs. Authorities said Passaro got upset over a man calling Heart.

U.S. District Court Judge Terrence Boyle ordered Passaro to remain in jail pending trial in the Afghan beating case. The judge said he was a flight risk and danger to others.

In a

911 emergency tape

released Wednesday, Heart, crying, told the 911 operator that Passaro "literally picked me up and threw me."

Related Audio:

911 Emergency Call From Bonnie Heart

Heart also asked the operator to tell the deputy not to use a siren when coming to her residence.

"Just don't sound the sirens, OK, because he'll come and get me," Heart said.

Passaro was charged with assault, injury to personal property and misdemeanor larceny.

Witnesses at the hearing Wednesday testified that Passaro abused his ex-wives; severely beat a man who allegedly was a bookie; and tortured and killed neighborhood pets.

Passaro showed no emotion during the hearing.

Boyle had concerns about Passaro's prior claims that he was indigent and required court-appointed lawyers for his defense. When Passaro was arrested on June 2, he had $18,460 in cash in a briefcase in his car.

"This is interesting to hear that the government is paying for a battery of lawyers for his defense and he's driving around with $18,000 on the front seat," Boyle said. "The implication of that is that he is not indigent. He told me, in court, in public, in Raleigh, that he was cleaning houses."

"We've got a lot of questions about that bag of cash; $18,500 is a lot of money to be driving around with throughout eastern North Carolina," U.S. Attorney Jim Candelmo said. "Especially when you're awaiting trial on assault charges."

Passaro's public defender, Thomas McNamara said some of the money in the car was cash that the U.S. Marshals had seized months before and had recently returned. The rest was borrowed from former "Special Ops" people and from the sale of a tractor.

Passaro had set aside $500 for his own bail and was on his way to turn himself in to the Harnett County Sheriff's Office when federal marshals found him, McNamara said.

"(He) has demonstrated that he wants to try to follow the rules," McNamara said.

Boyle rejected that argument and said the government proved that Passaro is a danger to others and a flight risk.

A former Special Forces soldier recruited by the CIA, Passaro also faces four counts of assault in Afghanistan. He is accused of beating prisoner Abdul Wali with his hands, feet and a large flashlight while Wali was interrogated for two days at an American base in Afghanistan in June 2003.

In August, Passaro was released from jail after a federal judge said prosecutors failed to show he was a flight risk or a threat to the community.

Passaro has denied playing any role in Wali's death and maintains he was made a scapegoat by the military following the prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. He faces a maximum of 40 years in prison and $1 million in fines if convicted.


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