Bloomberg News

Synagogue Bomb Plotters Should Get Life Sentences, U.S. Says

June 09, 2011

(Updates with rescheduled sentencing date in ninth paragraph.)

June 9 (Bloomberg) -- Three of the four New York men convicted of plotting to bomb New York synagogues and fire heat- seeking missiles at military planes should be sentenced to life in prison, U.S. prosecutors said.

“The defendants are career criminals; they have shown little respect for the law throughout their adult lives,” prosecutors said yesterday in a sentencing memorandum filed in federal court in White Plains, New York. “This investigation revealed what their rap sheets never could: that these defendants were among the handful of people in the country who would actually agree to join forces with a terrorist to bomb synagogues.”

The four men, residents of Newburgh, New York, were convicted in October. According to trial testimony, an FBI informant attended a Newburgh mosque for about six months when he was approached by one of the men, James Cromitie, who said that he was unhappy about Muslims getting killed in Afghanistan and Pakistan and that he wanted “to do something in America.”

The four were arrested in a coordinated sting operation in the Riverdale section of the Bronx on the night of May 20, 2009.

Prosecutors say the men planted three devices packed with the plastic explosive C4 in two cars, parked outside the Riverdale Temple and adjacent to the Riverdale Jewish Center.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation had rendered inactive the 37-pound bombs. Officers apprehended the men after one of them placed the devices in the cars.

In a May 25 court filing, Cromitie asked U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon to sentence him to 25 years in prison and argued that the informant spurred the plot.

‘Small-Time Criminal’

Cromitie is a “lifelong, small-time criminal; despite his conviction in this case, he is not a terrorist,” his lawyer, Kerry Lawrence, said in the filing.

McMahon today rescheduled sentencing for Cromitie and two others, David Williams and Onta Williams, to June 29. Sentencing of the fourth man, Laguerre Payen, would be put on hold pending the results of a psychiatric evaluation, McMahon said in a June 1 order.

Lawrence and lawyers for David Williams and Onta Williams didn’t immediately return calls to their offices after regular business hours yesterday.

The case is U.S. v. Cromitie, 09-cr-00558, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (White Plains).

--Editors: Peter Blumberg, Glenn Holdcraft

To contact the reporter on this story: Edvard Pettersson in Los Angeles at epettersson@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.


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