Patrick Abraham, 30, was given just over nine years; Stanley Phanor, 34, drew eight years; Burson Augustin, 24, was handed six years; and Rotschild Augustine, 26, got seven years. Narseal Batiste, 35, who the government said was the leader of the conspiracy, was slapped with 13-and-a-half years. After his sentence is complete Batiste will be on probation for 35 years.
Prosecutors had sought a sentence of up to 70 years for Batiste, and 30 to 50 years for the other four.
The case against the five and two other Black construction workers, who became known as the Liberty City Seven, was based on the work and testimony of two FBI informers who were paid more than $130,000 plus hotel lodging and expenses to entrap the group. The FBI operatives, Elie Assad and Abbas al-Saidi, posed as members of al-Qaeda and offered money to the seven if they would take a loyalty oath to al-Qaeda and join in a terrorist plot.
From the beginning the defendants explained that they had gone along with the FBIs proposals in order to get the money offered them but that they never intended to take any action. The government had to admit that no weapons, plans for a terrorist act, or literature were found.
Arrested in June 2006, the Liberty City Seven were brought to trial three times. The first ended in an acquittal for one of the defendants and a mistrial for six others. The second trial of the six resulted in another mistrial. Only in the third trial in May, after three years and three trials, was a guilty verdict brought in against five of the framed-up defendants, and this was only after a Black woman juror was removed in the middle of the trial. Another defendant was found innocent.
U.S. District Court Judge Joan Lenard, who sentenced the Liberty City defendants, is the same judge who presided over the frame-up trial on false charges of conspiracy to commit espionage of five Cuban revolutionaries unjustly held in U.S. jails for more than 11 years. (See story on page 7.)
Many here believe that Judge Lenard gave the Liberty City defendants much lower sentences than the government prosecutors had demanded because of widespread knowledge of and opposition to the frame-up in the Miami area, especially in the Black community here.
Framed-up attorney ordered to prison for conspiracy
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