Friday, August 26, 2011

James Hogan Case: Wife of Missing Diplomat Charged with Witness Tampering, False Statements, and Obstruction of Justice

The spouse of James Hogan, the U.S. diplomat who disappeared in the Netherlands Antilles has been charged by DOJ in a multiple count indictment for her alleged role in the "obstruction of a multi-national investigation into the disappearance of her husband":

Via DOJ:

Florida Woman Charged with Witness Tampering, False Statements, and Obstruction of Justice in Relation to Her Husband’s Disappearance
U.S. Department of Justice August 24, 2011   

WASHINGTON—A Gainesville, Florida woman was charged in a seven-count indictment filed yesterday in the Northern District of Florida for her alleged role in the obstruction of a multi-national investigation into the disappearance of her husband, James Hogan, then an employee in the U.S. Consulate in Curacao, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Pamela Cothran Marsh for the Northern District of Florida; Ambassador Eric J. Boswell of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security; and John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Miami Field Office.

Abby Beard Hogan, 50, was charged with two counts of making false statements to federal law enforcement officials, one count of witness tampering, and four counts of obstruction of justice. According to the indictment, on the night of Sept. 24, 2009, James Hogan, an employee at the U.S. Consulate in Curacao, a Caribbean island that was part of the Netherlands Antilles, left his home on foot and subsequently disappeared. The next day, a diver located his blood-stained clothing on a local beach. American officials and the government of Curacao and the Kingdom of the Netherlands opened an investigation into the disappearance of James Hogan.

The indictment alleges that, during the course of the investigation, Abby Hogan repeatedly provided false information to U.S. law enforcement about the time period before James Hogan’s disappearance and withheld relevant information. Abby Hogan allegedly denied, among other things, that she was having an extramarital affair and that she and her husband had argued about the affair on the night of Sept. 24, 2009. Additionally, the indictment alleges that Abby Hogan deleted multiple e-mails discussing the events leading up to and surrounding her husband’s disappearance. The indictment also alleges that Abby Hogan instructed at least one person to conceal information from investigators.

The indictment is merely an allegation, and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Abby Hogan faces a maximum of five years in prison for each false statement count and 20 years in prison for each count of witness tampering and obstruction of justice.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Trial Attorney Teresa Wallbaum of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Williams for the Northern District of Florida. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided assistance. The case is being investigated by the U.S. Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service and the FBI’s Miami Field Office and Legal Attaché Office in Bridgetown, Barbados. Assistance was also provided by Curacao law enforcement authorities.
The Latin American Herald Tribune in its coverage notes the following additional info:
Abby Beard Cope and her husband met while they were both serving as officers in the Navy in San Diego. He was a 1982 graduate of the US Naval Academy. She served for 11 years as an attorney in the Judge Advocate General legal corps and he served for 22 years as a pilot, before joining the State Department. They served 2 tours in Africa (Cote d'Ivoire and Botswana) before what was supposed to be a two year assignment in Curacao. The Hogans have 5 children.

James Hogan's body has never been found and his disappearance remains an unsolved mystery.

This is the first indictment in the disappearance case that will mark a two year milestone next month. I'm afraid this case may take a tawdry turn before it is over.

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