Thursday, July 10, 2014

Secret document delays ex-hijacker's sentencing

William Potts
Prosecutors filed undisclosed classified information in the case of ex-hijacker William Potts, triggering a delay in his sentencing which had been set for today.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria K. Medetis had asked Chief Judge K. Michael Moore to issue an order authorizing the U.S. government to exempt the classified information from discovery and "order that the entire text of the classified in camera, ex parte motion, memorandum and all accompanying attachments shall not be disclosed to the defense; rather, it should be sealed and preserved in the records of the Court to be made available to the appellate court in the event of an appeal."
Assistant Public Defender Robert N. Berube said the prosecutor told him in a phone call that the classified document, now under seal, could contain mitigating information relevant to the sentencing. He wrote:
If the classified information is mitigating, Defendant William Potts, Jr., and undersigned counsel are entitled to review it before the sentencing.
During the same telephone call, Assistant United States Attorney Meditas stated that the information contained in the Ex Parte, Under Seal, Classified Document contained information that may be irrelevant.
If the information is irrelevant to the sentencing then why was the document ever filed?
Undersigned counsel is disappointed that the United States Attorney's Office has tactically decided to wait until 36 hours prior to the sentencing to file this notice simply to gain additional advantage in the sentencing process. At this moment Defendant William Potts, Jr. is unaware of these recent developments. Additional time is requested to meet and confer regarding the significance of this important development. 
During a court hearing today, Berube asked that the sentencing be set for the week of Aug. 4. Moore refused, setting the sentencing for 1 p.m. July 17.
Also on Thursday, Potts asked the court to replace Berube. The judge declined.
Earlier, Potts wrote a letter to Along the Malecón saying that after months of wrangling he'd been offered a deal in which he expected to get credit for time served in Cuba and might even be released "to go home." He wrote:
Everything seemed to be moving along in the right direction. Imagine my shock and dismay when I received a copy of the report prepared by the probation officer as a result of her investigation of case when at the end her recommendation to the court is that I be given 20 years.
Potts said he told his lawyer he would withdraw his guilty plea if he thought he was headed for 20 years in prison.
In the letter to Along the Malecón, Potts also said that included in the discovery material was a photo of him wearing a T-shirt that showed an image of Osama bin Laden and the phrase "Wanted by the FBI." He wrote:
...the shirt isn't even mine but belongs to a friend... It certainly is not a crime to have a T-shirt with Osama bin Laden's image on it much less one announcing that he is wanted by the FBI... 
The wearing of a T-shirt with an image of Osama bin Laden does not a mujahideen make. I don't know Osama bin Laden, never met him, never had any dealings with him at all, never aided him, never gave him arms or money. In light of the events of 9/11, I am of the opinion that anyone whoever did any of these things for this individual should be sent to prison. These people are pathetic.
This the T-shirt Potts wore in Cuba.

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