Would be Synagogue Bomber Defendants Claim they were set up
A federal judge appeared receptive to defense attorneys’ claims that the FBI entrapped the four men convicted in October of planning to blow up synagogues in the Bronx and use missiles to shoot down military planes at Stewart Air National Guard Base. “The FBI did not infiltrate a plot,” U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon said at a Thursday hearing. “There was no plot.”
James Cromitie, Onta Williams, David Williams and Laguerre Payen say they were entrapped by an FBI agent who promised them $250,000 to participate in a plot they never conceived.
The government says the figure was closer to $5,000 and denies allegations of misconduct.
Payen’s attorney, Sam Braverman, rejected the argument that the relative paltriness of the $5,000 bait shows that the men weren’t in it for the money.
“It’s ‘only $5,000’ if you have $5,000,” Braverman said.
In determining whether the defendants could receive a new trial, Judge McMahon said that the jury’s convictions obligate her to read evidence in a light most favorable to the government, but she appeared convinced that the defendants were not planning terrorism before meeting a government agent.
Though the judge said that “there was no plot,” she joined Assistant U.S. Attorney David Raskin in her condemnation of the defendants for their willingness to agree to the government agent’s plans.
“No good, responsible human being could have done what these people brought themselves to do,” she said. “No question about it.”