Ex-Bush Aide Pleads Guilty to Stealing From Federally Aided Center

Associated Press
Saturday, December 20, 2008

A former Bush White House aide pleaded guilty yesterday to stealing nearly $600,000 from a government-funded center that promotes democracy in Cuba.

Felipe Sixto pleaded guilty to theft from a federally aided program in front of U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton. He said little during the plea hearing except "Yes, sir" and "Guilty, sir" when asked about the charge.

Sixto resigned in March from his job as special assistant to President Bush for intergovernmental affairs after learning that his former employer, the Center for a Free Cuba, was prepared to begin legal action against him.

The Justice Department said Sixto, the center's former chief of staff, made $579,274 by overcharging the center for radios and flashlights.

He has been free on bond. He will be sentenced in March.

The Center for a Free Cuba describes itself as an independent, nonpartisan institution dedicated to promoting human rights and a transition to democracy and the rule of law in Cuba.

The U.S. Agency for International Development gives the center millions of dollars a year for rent, travel and equipment such as shortwave radios and laptops.

Sixto worked for the center from 2005 to 2007. He joined the Bush administration's Office of Intergovernmental Affairs in July 2007 and was assigned to deal with state legislators, Native American groups and Hispanic officials on issues such as Cuba, Puerto Rico, health, labor, transportation, the environment and energy.

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