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Former CIA contractor held without bail for trial

Virginian-Pilot | June 9, 2005

ELIZABETH CITY — U.S. District Judge Terrence W. Boyle on Wednesday ordered a former CIA contractor accused of beating an Afghan detainee to remain in jail until his trial because of violations of conditions of his pre-trial release.

David Passaro, 38, of Lillington, was indicted in June 2004 on four assault charges stemming from the death of a man on a U.S. military base in Afghanistan near the Pakistan border in June 2003, according to The Associated Press.

He is reportedly the first U.S. citizen charged under the Patriot Act, which extends to military contractors overseas. He faces up to 40 years in prison and $1 million in fines if convicted, according to The Associated Press.

Passaro was accused last Thursday of assaulting his girlfriend at his home after she received a telephone call from another man.

Passaro was out on pre-trial release and now faces charges of assault, injury to personal property and misdemeanor larceny.

When he was arrested, authorities found a satchel in his truck with $18,460 in cash, FBI agent Andrew Thomure testified on Wednesday.

Some of the money had previously been seized and returned to Passaro after he said he needed it to pay bills, Assistant U.S. Attorney James Candelmo said in court.

Passaro’s attorney said the money was to pay back loans he had drawn from friends, pay bills and post bond if he were arrested on assault charges.

Candelmo said Passaro got the money in a way that was unknown to the court and authorities. He said he doubted the money came from “bona fide loans.”

On Wednesday, Boyle said Passaro was a flight risk and a danger to his community and should remain in custody until his trial scheduled for July 17 in Raleigh.

“This court trusted Mr. Passaro, and Mr. Passaro betrayed that trust,” Candelmo said after Thursday’s hearing, which was held in federal court . “The government is ready to move forward with the prosecution.”

Prosecutors have previously alleged that Passaro beat detainee Abdul Wali during two days of interrogation in Afghanistan, according to The Associated Press. Wali died the next day.

Passaro has said he is innocent and that he is being made a scapegoat for alleged abuse of foreign prisoners at the hands of U.S. forces, according to The Associated Press.

Passaro, who was working as a contractor for the CIA in Afghanistan, is a former Army Green Beret who worked as a civilian special operations employee at Fort Bragg, The Associated Press reported.

On Thursday, Cpl. Scott Assmann, of the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office, testified that Passaro’s girlfriend, Bonnie Heart, 46, a former Wake Forest police detective, called 911 around 8:20 p.m. last Thursday to report that Passaro had assaulted her.

When Assmann arrived to meet Heart at her parked car, she was crying and frightened, Assmann said.

Heart said Passaro became angry when she received a call from a male acquaintance, and the two argued, Assmann said.

Heart decided to use Passaro’s restroom before leaving his house, he said. Passaro burst into the restroom, lifted her up and pushed her out of the house, Assmann testified. Heart fell down three steps at the door and suffered scrapes and bruises, he said.

In Heart’s 911 call, which was played in court, she said: “He picked me up and threw me out of his house. He literally picked me up and threw me.”

Assmann said Heart told him that Passaro had taken a ring and two earrings before pushing her out the door.

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