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Espionage hinted in money-laundering case

By BARBARA McCABE

PHILADELPHIA -- The Yugoslavian-born head of a janitorial service used his access to the headquarters of major defense contractors to search for documents of interest to his native country, federal authorities said Monday.

According to a motion filed in U.S. District Court, Yvjekoslav Spangol and Hubert F. Cole, two Texas men indicted recently in an international money laundering and smuggling scheme, conspired to deliver to the Yugoslavian government documents retrieved from the trash of defense contractors in the Dallas-Forth Worth area.

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The allegations, which are not yet the subject of federal charges, were made to persuade U.S. District Judge Richard A. Powers III to deny bail to the two defendants, prosecutors said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas J. Rueter said he will present evidence Tuesday of Spangol's and Cole's espionage activities.

'They present a risk of pre-trial flight and a danger to the community because they are a danger to the national security of the United States,' Rueter told the judge.

The motion was to be heard Monday but was postponed 24 hours after Spangol's attorneys arrived in Dallas and asked for more time to review the case.

'Although the two defendants are not charged in the indictment with espionage, there is probable cause to believe that they were engaged in espionage activities,' according to court documents.

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The motion stated that it also was feared that Spangol, a naturalized U.S. citizen, and Cole might flee the country if they were released.

'They have access to Yugoslavian passports, visas, as well as documents establishing (them) as diplomatic couriers for Yugoslavia,' the motion stated.

'In addition, (they) have the potential of securing the assistance of persons within the country of Yugoslavia who may assist (them) in fleeing ... and have bank accounts established in Yugoslavia.'

Spangol, 41, a janitorial service operator from Plano, Texas, and Cole, 44, a self-employed financial planner from Carrollton, Texas, are two of five people -- including the Yugoslavian consul general in Chicago and the chairman of the U.S. branch of a Yugoslavian bank in New York - indicted last Thursday on charges they conspired to launder $1.5 million for use in the export of restricted high-technology and military items.

Yugoslavian consul general Bahrudin Bijedic, 52, was released on $150,000 bail following a hearing Sunday after a high-ranking Yugoslavian diplomat assured the court that Bijedic would show up for trial.

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