Alfonso Chardy, Who Helped Expose Iran-Contra Scandal, Dies at 72

Alfonso Chardy, whose methodical reporting ushered The Miami Herald to a Pulitzer Prize for exposing the Iran-contra scandal in 1986 and contributed to three other Pulitzers that the newspaper won, died on April 9 in a Miami hospital. He was 72.

The cause was a heart attack, said his wife, Siobhan T. Morrisey.

Mr. Chardy was instrumental in uncovering a link between the illegal sale of weapons to Iran orchestrated by senior Reagan administration officials to facilitate the release of Western hostages, and the covert diversion of proceeds from that sale to support right-wing rebels in Nicaragua known as the contras.

He wrote more than half of the 10 articles that won the Pulitzer for national reporting in 1987 and revealed the role of Marine Lt. Col. Oliver L. North in what amounted to a money laundering plot by senior officials to bypass a congressional arms embargo against Iran to secure the hostages’ release. The Westerners were being held in Lebanon by the Iranian-supported militant group Hezbollah. In Nicaragua, the contras were battling the leftist Sandinista government.

(The Herald shared the national reporting prize with The New York Times, which was cited for its coverage of the Challenger space shuttle disaster.)

Lt. Col. Oliver L. North being sworn in before the House Foreign Affairs Committee in 1986 during a hearing on the Iran-contra affair. Mr. Chardy’s reporting had helped expose Lieutenant-Colonel North’s role in the scandal. Credit…Chris Wilkins/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Mr. Chardy joined other teams of reporters at The Herald in winning Pulitzer Prizes for public service in 1993, awarded for the paper’s coverage of Hurricane Andrew; for investigative reporting in 1999, for revealing voter fraud in a mayoral election, which was subsequently overturned; and for breaking news in 2001, for articles about Elian Gonzalez, a Cuban boy who was seized in a raid by immigration agents and returned to Cuba after a court challenge to his U.S. qualifications for asylum.

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