WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was joined today by Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in introducing the Trooper Werner Foerster and Frank Connor Justice Act. The bipartisan legislation defines U.S. policy to require the immediate extradition or return of all fugitives from justice currently receiving safe haven in Cuba to avoid prosecution or confinement for criminal offenses committed in the United States. Among the more than 70 fugitives believed to be receiving safe haven in Cuba are convicted felons Joanne Chesimard and William Morales, whose crimes led to the death of two New Jersey residents. Other fugitives being harbored by the Cuban regime include individuals charged with offenses ranging from hijacking to kidnapping to drug offenses and murder.
The new legislation also requires the U.S. government to actively raise the issues of fugitives with the Cuban government and take additional steps to ensure Cuba does not violate its obligations under existing bilateral extradition treaties. The legislation also requires increased transparency over the total number of U.S. fugitives in Cuba and State Department efforts to secure their extradition, and prohibits the use of any foreign assistance for law enforcement cooperation in Cuba until the country complies with its extradition treaty obligations and returns U.S. fugitives.
“It is unacceptable that the Cuban regime continues to harbor criminals responsible for committing heinous acts in the United States, including terrorist bombings, murdering American police officers, hijacking planes, and trafficking arms,” said Chairman Menendez. “The families of the victims of these fugitives, including many in my home state of New Jersey, have spent decades unable to find closure and see justice done as a direct result of the Cuban regime’s actions. This bill will send a strong message to these families that the United States government has not forgotten their plight, and it will ensure that the issue of American fugitives remains a top priority for U.S. policy towards Cuba.”
“The communist regime in Cuba has provided safe haven to Joanne Chesimard, Guillermo Morales, Charlie Hill, Victor Manuel Gerena and other criminals responsible for planning and carrying out violent crimes against Americans,” said Senator Rubio. “By doing so, the regime has robbed these victims and their families of justice. This bill takes an important step by requiring the Secretary of State and the Attorney General to use diplomatic tools to secure the extradition of all fugitives residing in Cuba to face justice in the United States. Until the regime hands these fugitives over to face trial in American courts, it absolutely should not receive taxpayer assistance or sanctions relief.”
“Decades ago, I promised my mom Mary Connor Tully that we would bring justice to convicted fugitive William Morales who, along with his FALN terrorist comrades, murdered her first love, my father Frank Connor,” said Joseph Connor, son of Frank Connor who was killed in 1975 by FALN terrorists currently being harbored by the Cuban regime. “The Trooper Werner Foerster and Frank Connor Justice Act can make that promise a reality. We implore the United States to use all resources available to bring Morales and all terrorists and criminals back from Cuba to face justice.”
In May 1973, Joanne Chesimard and two accomplices executed New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster during a routine traffic stop. Although Chesimard was tried, convicted and sentenced to imprisonment, she escaped from a New Jersey prison on November 2, 1979 and is currently a fugitive in Cuba. In 2013, Chesimard was added to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Most Wanted Terrorists list.
William Morales, leader and chief bomb-maker for the terrorist organization FALN, committed numerous terrorist attacks on United States soil, including the bombings of Fraunces Tavern in lower Manhattan in 1975 and the Mobil Oil employment office in New York in 1977, which killed five people, including Frank Connor of Fair Lawn, N.J., and injured over 60 others.
Find a copy of the legislation HERE.