MIAMI — The first of Manuel A. Noriega's co-defendants to be punished in a drug smuggling case was sentenced Thursday to 30 months in prison, but may only have to serve 15 more months.
Panamanian pilot Eduardo Pardo, who already has served five months, has cooperated with the U.S. attorney's office in its investigation of the deposed Panamanian leader. He will continue to cooperate, his attorney told U.S. District Judge William Hoeveler.
Pardo, 44, pleaded guilty in February to one count of illegal travel for flying $800,000 in cocaine profits from Florida to Panama in 1983.
Pardo had faced a maximum five-year federal prison sentence and a $10,000 fine.
Assistant U.S. Atty. Michael Sullivan recommended leniency. He said that the defendant had turned over evidence, including his flight log, that helped investigators track the movements of other co-defendants.
Tears ran down Pardo's face as his attorney, William Meadows, pleaded for probation. He declined an opportunity to speak on his own behalf.
Meadows noted that Pardo had no previous criminal record and had surrendered voluntarily to U.S. authorities in Panama City after the Dec. 20 invasion of Panama.
Under sentencing guidelines, Pardo would be freed in 20 months, including five already served. But Hoeveler made a point of telling Meadows he would welcome a motion to reduce the sentence if Pardo continued cooperating with investigators.