Four persons pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court here to charges stemming from the abduction in Miami last month of Clelia Eleanor Quinones, wife of the former Salvadoran ambassador to the United States.
Clifford Bibbs, 23, Mack Lewis Carr, 18, and Robert Anthony Gerald, 19, face possible maximum sentences of life in prison after each pleaded guilty to a single charge of kidnaping before U.S. District Court Judge William B. Bryant.
Jennifer Brown, 27, could be sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison and fined $5,000 after pleading guilty to a count of being an accessory after the fact to interstate travel in aid of kidnaping.
All four, who are District residents, were named in a seven-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Miami charging conspiracy, kidnaping and extortion in the abduction of Quinones, who was taken from her home in a Miami suburb July 8 and later rescued by FBI agents outside a hotel in Washington.
Four other persons, including a 16-year-old youth, face charges stemming from the abduction.
In exchange for their guilty pleas and an agreement to cooperate with federal investigators, including possible court testimony, all other charges against Bibbs, Carr, Gerald and Brown were dropped.
Also arrested in the incident last month were Dora Ileana Caceres, 32, who holds the diplomatic rank of third secretary in the Guatemalan mission to the Organization of American States, and her husband, Juan Jose Caceres, 43, an importer. They, along with a Miami man, Salvador Lacayo, have pleaded not guilty to the charges in Miami.
Yesterday a federal magistrate ordered 16-year-old Craig Blas of Alexandria removed to Miami where federal prosecutors will seek to have him tried as an adult for allegedly recruiting Bibbs, Carr, Gerald and Brown into the alleged kidnaping scheme.
Quinones was abducted outside her home in the Miami suburb of Coral Gables as she returned from work. According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Hawkins, who presented to Bryant what the government would have tried to prove had the case gone to trial, she was assaulted by Bibbs who struck her and forced her into a car.
Quinones' wrists and fingers were bound with tape, cotton swabs were taped over her eyes and her torso was bound with rope, Hawkins said. Bibbs and two other men, he said, then drove Quinones overnight to Washington in a station wagon owned by Bibbs, who is described as a janitor.
According to Hawkins, Quinones was held for the next six days in Carr's apartment at 2327 15th St. NW while others made several phone calls to her husband in Miami demanding $1.5 million in ransom.
FBI agents staked out the area around the apartment after tracing several phone calls between Washington and Miami. Agents made a dramatic rescue of Quinones when she was taken to a phone booth outside a Belmont Street NW motel.
Prosecutors have alleged that the abduction was "part of an international terrorist kidnaping scheme," although diplomatic officials are said to doubt that the crime was politically inspired.
Bryant yesterday ordered Bibbs, Carr and Gerald held without bond pending a study of whether they would be eligible for sentencing under the Federal Youth Corrections Act. Under the act, they could be given indeterminant sentences and would be eligible for immediate parole.
Brown was released on bond pending sentencing Oct. 11.