Local News

Passaro Out Of Jail, Awaits Trial

Posted August 27, 2004 6:41 a.m. EDT

— A former CIA contractor accused of the beating of a prisoner in Afghanistan is free after a court hearing in downtown Raleigh.

David Passaro was released from the Wake County Jail Friday afternoon. He appeared in a court hearing, scheduled by U.S. District Court Judge Terrence Boyle, to hear about the terms of his release. After leaving the courthouse, he left to go to to Lillington.

"It feels great," Passaro said. "I'm really grateful that I'm going to get my day in court to prove my innocence."

U.S. Marshal Charles Reavis said Passaro was already in civilian clothes awaiting his freedom earlier in the day.

Wake Forest police Detective Bonnie Heart, Passaro's girlfriend, came to the courthouse Friday. In June, prosecutors argued Passaro would attempt to flee before his trial with the help of Heart.

Authorities have searched Heart's home twice. Agents took Passaro's guns and money that were in Heart's house. They also took Heart's home computer and copied e-mails from her computer at work. Heart has not been charged with anything.

The Lillington resident is accused of beating an Afghan prisoner with a flashlight while working in Afghanistan last year for the CIA. The prisoner later died, though Passaro is not charged with his death. Passaro is being charged with assault.

Passaro will be released into the custody of his friend and neighbor, Sgt. Jay Smith. Smith is a former Green Beret stationed at Fort Bragg. Passaro will also be placed on curfew from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. and electronically monitored. He will have to forfeit his house if he fails to appear in court.

As part of his release agreement, Passaro cannot possess any firearms and he has been ordered to stay away from government witnesses in his case and his two ex-wives.

Passaro, a former Army Green Beret, started working as a civilian employee at Fort Bragg in 2002 working with the Special Operations command. Last summer, The former National Guard member avoided a scheduled deployment to Kosovo.Instead, he went to Afghanistan on a short-term contract with the CIA.

If Passaro is convicted, he could be sentenced to up to 40 years in prison and fined $1 million.