Local News

Freed From One Jail, Passaro Also Granted Bail From Another

Posted March 17, 2006

— David Passaro, accused in a prisoner abuse case that has received international attention, saw the inside of two jails Friday.

First, he walked away from the Wake County Jail Friday around noon after he was given permission by a federal judge to leave the jail while preparing for a trial involving the alleged prisoner abuse.

Then, he was picked up by Harnett County deputies who took him into custody for alleged misdemeanor assault in connection with a fight with his former girlfriend, Bonnie Heart.

He walked out of the Harnett County Jail around 4:15 p.m. after members of his church posted his $1,500 bond there, authorities said.

Passaro, a former CIA contractor, is charged with beating a detainee in Afghanistan, who later died. A federal judge ordered Passaro to be released from jail, so he can meet regularly with his attorneys and build his defense in that case.

Passaro is the first U.S. civilian to face prisoner abuse charges stemming from the war on terror. U.S. attorneys have argued Passaro's past behavior shows a pattern of violence.

Last year, Passaro was arrested for allegedly assaulting Heart. At the time, he was on house arrest waiting for his trial to start. Plus, court documents recently made public indicate Passaro beat his former stepson over a period of at least eight years.

The stepson told FBI investigators Passaro beat him with a flashlight. The abuse mirrors the claims in the prisoner case. Passaro denies his stepson's accusations and any role in the prisoner's death. He claims the military is using him as a scapegoat to show it is cracking down on prisoner abuse.

Passaro could get 40 years in prison if convicted. His trial has been delayed several times since he was indicted in June 2004. No trial date has been set.

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