Local News

Passaro In Jail For Allegedly Assaulting Girlfriend

Posted June 3, 2005 3:21 a.m. EDT

— U.S. Attorney Frank Whitney said the U.S. Marshals Service arrested David Passaro on a charge of assaulting his girlfriend, Bonnie Heart, in Lillington.

Passaro made his first court appearance Friday. He will stay in custody until a federal magistrate holds a hearing to determine if Passaro is a risk to public safety or a flight risk, Whitney said.

Harnett County Sheriff Larry Rollins said in a news release that Heart, 46, told deputies she and Passaro had a dispute about some phone calls.

She said Passaro threw her into a hallway, pushed her into a door and into the front glass storm door, causing her to fall down stairs. She also said Passaro threw her cell phone and then pulled an earring from her ear as she was leaving in her vehicle.

Prosecutors say Passaro even tried to talk with Heart at a Wilmington hospital where she went for treatment. He was charged with assault on a female, injury to personal property and misdemeanor larcency.

Passaro, a former Special Forces soldier who worked as a civilian special operations employee at Fort Bragg, is charged with four counts of assault in Afghanistan. He is accused of beating Abdul Wali with his hands, feet and a large flashlight while Wali was interrogated for two days at a U.S. base in Afghanistan in June 2003.

Wali had turned himself in to U.S. forces, who sought him as a suspect in rocket attacks on the base. He later died in custody.

Passaro is the first civilian prosecuted on charges of mistreating a military detainee in the U.S. war on terrorism, and the first American charged under the Patriot Act.

He was released from the Wake County Jail in August after U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle said prosecutors failed to show Passaro was a flight risk or a threat to the community.

Boyle ordered Passaro released to the custody of a neighbor in Lillington. Passaro also was under electronic monitoring and had a curfew from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.

Some people who know Passaro say he has a history of aggressive behavior, while others said the alleged assault in Afghanistan seemed out of character.

Passaro's ex-wife, Kerry Passaro, of Fayetteville, said last year he was violent toward her throughout their marriage.

Heart, a police detective in the Wake County town of Wake Forest, had stood by Passaro after his arrest and initial detention. She was placed on unpaid leave last July after she was targeted in a federal investigation of Passaro and either quit or lost her job in October.

Federal agents searched Heart's home twice, and prosecutors in federal court used tapes of her conversations with Passaro in an attempt show that he was hiding money and planning an escape.

In court papers, prosecutors said Heart and Passaro spoke in code about hidden cash, passports and other documents. Passaro's attorney argued that there was no escape plot.

A probable cause hearing and a detention hearing will be held June 8. For now, Passaro will be held at the Wake County Jail.