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Lehder’s Ex-Wife, Eight Others Plead Guilty In ‘Son of Lehder’ Cocaine Case With AM-Colombia,

September 1, 1989 GMT

Lehder’s Ex-Wife, Eight Others Plead Guilty In ‘Son of Lehder’ Cocaine Case With AM-Colombia, Bjt

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ Convicted Colombian drug kingpin Carlos Lehder Rivas continued to arrange cocaine transactions from his Florida jail cell while awaiting trial in 1987, the government said Friday in a plea agreement with his ex-wife.

Yemel Nacel, 34, of New York was one of nine people who entered guilty pleas in the so-called ″Son of Lehder″ case.

In its agreement with Ms. Nacel, the government said Lehder, the leader of the Medellin cartel, had used her to arrange cocaine transactions while awaiting trial in Jacksonville.

He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. He is being held in isolation at the maximum-security prison in Marion, Ill.

Ms. Nacel, who told U.S. District Judge John H. Moore II that she is a housewife and mother, pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine. She faces a maximum 15-year prison term and a $4 million fine.

Ms. Nacel will be held without bond until sentencing Nov. 29. Co-defendant John Lee Moller, 44, who previously lived in Mexico, also will remain in jail until sentencing. The guilty pleas are contingent on Moore approving the formal plea agreements.

Ms. Nacel married Lehder in Toronto in February 1977 and was divorced in 1980 or 1981 in Haiti. She was involved in cocaine trafficking with Lehder as recently as 1987, when Lehder was arrested in Colombia and hastily brought to the United States, the government alleged.

Five other defendants, including Jack Carlton Reed, who was tried with Lehder and convicted of conspiracy, remain scheduled for trial Sept. 11.

Moller, who was among the others pleading guilty, was accused of smuggling cocaine as recently as 1985. He faces up to 20 years in prison and forfeiture of about $2 million in property, including land in Tequesta, Fla., $896,000 cash in a safe deposit box in London and the proceeds of $473,000 owed him on loans.

Richard James Barile, accused of being instrumental in distributing large amounts of cocaine for Lehder in California in the 1970s, faces up to eight years under the plea agreement.

Donald Podesto, also accused of distributing cocaine in California, failed to appear because a flight was canceled in Chicago.

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Richard C. Tracy of Taos, N.M., faces up to three years on his plea to charges of being involved in the case, and five others have sentencing caps of two years.

All of those who entered plea agreements have agreed to cooperate with the government.

Prosecutors earlier dismissed charges against Mayari Ann Sargent, a Washington, D.C., businesswoman who won pretrial motions suppressing some evidence.

Facing trial with Reed, 58, are Thomas Howard Herington, 35, of Mill Valley, Calif.; attorney Barry Kane, 52, of Hyannis, Mass., and Fort Luderdale; Donald Kenneth Lady, 41, of Pomona, Calif.; and Samuel Thomas Stewart, 53, of Anaheim, Calif.

Prosecutors have projected the trial will last two months because the remaining defendants span a 15-year time frame discussed in the indictment.

Sixteen others remain fugitives in the case, including the leaders of Medellin cartel leaders who are now listed on the ″most wanted list″ of drug kingpins sought by the Justice Department.

They include Pablo Escobar Gaviria, Jose Gonzalo Rodriquez Gacha, Jorge Ochoa Vasquez and Fabio Ochoa Vasquez.

Also indicted in the case was fugitive U.S. financier Robert Vesco, who is living in Cuba, and Everette William Bannister, a close associate of Bahamian Prime Minister Lynden O. Pindling.