Nydia L. Perez and John A. Soto, both 44, of Haymarket, Virginia, pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements to law enforcement officials in federal court on Friday, announced Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Assistant Director for International Operations John Boles of the FBI.
According to the plea agreement, in December 2013, Perez, an employee of the Drug Enforcement Administration, and her husband Soto, a private contractor in the United States Embassy in Bogotá, Colombia, designed and executed a hoax with the intention of defrauding the United States Embassy in Bogotá. As part of the hoax, Perez and Soto fabricated a plot to kidnap minors who are United States citizens.
According to court filings, Perez and Soto sent, through electronic mail and courier services, information about a purported threat to the safety of minor United States citizens in Bogotá. Perez and Soto added detailed descriptions of the targeted United States citizens, including information about their whereabouts and daily routines. Perez and Soto included photographs of the citizens in order to enhance the seriousness of the threat, and attempted to implicate innocent individuals in the kidnapping plot. Perez and Soto made numerous false representations to law enforcement and security officials in furtherance of the fabricated kidnapping plot.
Sentencing before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman-Jackson is scheduled for Aug. 21, 2014.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI Legal Attaché in Bogotá and the Extra-Territorial Squad of the FBI Miami Field Office. Also participating in the investigation were the DEA, the U.S. Embassy Bogota Regional Security Office, and the U.S. Embassy Bogota Force Protection Detail. The Department is grateful for the assistance of the Colombia National Police Directorate of Anti-Kidnapping and Anti-Extortion.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Justin Weitz of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section.