Monday, October 18, 2010
Jurors convict Riverdale bomb plotters on 30 of 32 counts
A jury today found four Muslim converts guilty of 30 of 32 counts in the May 2009 plot to bomb two Riverdale synagogues and shoot down military aircraft at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh.
Prosecutors had accused James Cromitie of hatching the scheme with a paid FBI informant he met at a mosque in Newburgh. They also said Cromitie recruited his three co-defendants -- David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen -- to fire heat-seeking missiles at cargo planes.
The informant helped make hundreds of hours of surveillance tapes that were played at the trial. The defense argued the government entrapped their clients.
Payen and Onta Williams were found guilty of attempting to kill officers or employees of the United States, the only counts that went in the defendants' favor.
READ THE VERDICT
Sentencing was set for March 24.
It took the forewoman five minutes to read the verdict because of the number of counts.
David Williams began smirking part way through the reading, while Payen rocked nervously in his chair.
After the jury was excused, David Williams' aunt, Bronx community activist Alicia McWilliams-McCollum, began shouting, "There's no f--king justice."
Payen's attorney, Sam Braverman, said of his client, "He's just stunned."
Susanne Brody, Onta Williams' lawyer, called the verdict "a miscarriage of justice just like the whole trial and the whole case."
The trail had come perilously close to a mistrial. The judge last week let the jury continue deliberations with just 11 members after one said she couldn’t reach a fair verdict after mistakenly seeing a report of transcribed FBI wiretaps.
It also featured a video demonstration of a car being blown to bits by the same type of bombs the men allegedly thought they were deploying against the synagogues last year.
The 22-second video dramatically demonstrated the Mazda 626 being reduced to smithereens in a huge orange fireball that sent shards of metal hurtling through the air.
Dozens of plastic human dummies arrayed around the vehicle were also leveled by the blast.
Cromitie, meanwhile, was portrayed as someone who “hated Jews and Jewish people," a government informant testified.
He also "hated the American soldiers and the American government," Shahed Hussain told jurors.
"He was full of hateful against those subjects," the Pakistani immigrant said.