(Updates with possible sentence in the 11th paragraph.)
Oct. 21 (Bloomberg) -- A U.S. citizen from Afghanistan, convicted of destroying evidence of a failed plot to bomb New York City’s subways, pleaded guilty to lying on an immigration form.
Mohammed Wali Zazi, 56, admitted today before U.S. District Judge John Gleeson in Brooklyn, New York, that he committed visa fraud between December 2006 and January 2007 when he said his nephew was his son.
“Amanullah was not my biological son and I told my attorney to mark it as my real son,” the elder Zazi told the judge through an interpreter, referring to his nephew.
On July 22, a jury convicted Zazi, a former New York City taxi driver who lives in the Denver area, of obstructing justice in the case of his son, Najibullah Zazi, who admitted to participating in the subway plot.
Najibullah Zazi pleaded guilty in February 2010 to supporting al-Qaeda and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction in a 2009 plot to detonate bombs on New York subways around the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
A co-conspirator, Zarien Ahmedzay, pleaded guilty to his role in the foiled subway plot in April 2010. Ahmedzay and Najibullah Zazi face life in prison.
A third man, Adis Medunjanin, pleaded not guilty in August 2010 to participating in the subway plot.
Deborah Colson and Justine Harris, lawyers for Mohammed Wali Zazi, declined to comment on the plea after today’s hearing.
Brooklyn prosecutors previously agreed to drop the visa- fraud charge so it could be moved to federal court in Manhattan. After his jury conviction, Mohammed Wali Zazi agreed to move it back to Brooklyn.
In the elder Zazi’s trial, prosecutors said he directed family members to destroy bomb-making materials, including liquid chemicals, that were part of the probe into his son, and that he conspired with family members to lie to agents looking into the subway plot in 2009.
The new conviction brings a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, though the nonbinding guideline range is up to six months. He faces a maximum of 40 years on the other charges. He’s scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 2.
The visa case is U.S. v. Zazi, 11-cr-718, and the obstruction case is U.S. v. Zazi, 10-cr-60, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).
--Editors: Mary Romano, Glenn Holdcraft
To contact the reporter on this story: Thom Weidlich in Brooklyn, New York, federal court at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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