Monday, February 18, 2013

Curacao: Missing US Consul's Wife Sentenced to Prison, Probation for Obstruction of Justice

According to The Associated Press, and as a follow-up to my posting of August 25, 2011, Abby Beard Hogan, a Gainesville, Florida and former JAG Corps attorney, was sentenced on Friday (February 15) to serve one year and one day in prison for her role in the obstruction of a multinational investigation into the disappearance of her husband, James Hogan, who disappeared on Curacao on September 25, 2009, never to be found.
Abby Hogan, 50, was sentenced by US District Judge M. Casey Rodgers in the Northern District of Florida. In addition to her prison term, Hogan was sentenced to two years of supervised release. On March 29, 2012, Hogan pleaded guilty before US Magistrate Judge Gary R. Jones to one count of obstruction of justice.

On September 24, 2009, Abby Hogan’s husband, James Hogan, an employee at the US Consulate in Curacao, a Caribbean island that was part of the Netherlands Antilles, left his home on foot and subsequently disappeared. In the early hours of September 25, 2009, James Hogan called his wife and spoke for approximately three minutes. The next day, when James Hogan failed to report to work, the US government and Dutch and Antillean law enforcement launched an island-wide search and opened an investigation into Hogan’s disappearance. On September 25, 2009, a diver located James Hogan’s blood-stained clothing on a local beach.

COMMENT: According to evidence submitted in Abby Hogan’s sentencing hearing, she repeatedly provided false information to US law enforcement about the time period before James Hogan’s disappearance and withheld relevant information. Abby Hogan initially told investigators that, before his disappearance, she and her husband had an argument. She subsequently modified that statement and claimed that there had been no argument, just a minor disagreement over her husband’s next assignment for the State Department.

Abby Hogan further told US law enforcement agents that James Hogan had been in a “good mood” prior to leaving for his walk on the evening of his disappearance. She repeatedly denied that there had been any marital problems or that her husband had been upset or depressed in any way. Abby Hogan further stated that she could not remember the full three-minute conversation before her husband disappeared because she was sound asleep when her husband called. She claimed she fell back asleep after the call and did not awake until the following morning. In fact, all of these statements were false, as established by the deleted e-mails and other computer forensic evidence, which was submitted to the court.

According to court documents, after law enforcement interviews, between September 30, 2009 and January 15, 2010, Abby Hogan deleted more than 300 e-mails from her e-mail account. These e-mails contained information that Abby Hogan knew was relevant to specific questions she had been asked by US law enforcement. The e-mails also contained information that she had either previously misrepresented or knowingly omitted during her interviews with law enforcement, including that she was engaged in an extramarital affair; the night James Hogan disappeared, the couple had argued, and he left the house angry and upset; and that she did not want law enforcement to know what had happened that evening.

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