New York Synagogue-Bomb Plotter Laguerre Payen Sentenced to 25 Years
A Haitian immigrant convicted last year of participating in a plot to bomb New York synagogues and shoot heat-seeking missiles at U.S. military planes was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon in Manhattan sentenced Laguerre Payen today to what she had ruled was the minimum required prison term, saying it is “sufficient, probably greater than necessary” to punish the crime.
McMahon imposed the same sentence on Payen’s three co- conspirators in June. Payen’s sentencing was delayed for a psychiatric evaluation.
The four men from Newburgh, New York -- Payen, James Cromitie, Onta Williams and David Williams -- were found guilty in October of crimes including conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction against the U.S.
A jury convicted the four of planning to bomb the Riverdale Temple, a Reform synagogue in the Bronx borough of New York, and the nearby Riverdale Jewish Center, an Orthodox synagogue, in May 2009. They also sought heat-seeking missiles to fire at aircraft at the Stewart Air National Guard base in Newburgh, the U.S. said.
Samuel Braverman, Payen’s attorney, disagreed with a pre- sentencing report that called his client’s mental health claims “unsupported.” He said Payen has been diagnosed as schizophrenic by several doctors. Braverman requested that the judge ask the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to place Payen in a facility with a medical center so his mental condition can be treated.
To place Payen in a prison where communication with other inmates and outsiders is restricted would be “totally unnecessary and cruel,” Braverman wrote. “The silence of solitary confinement would, in the end, be fatal.”
The trial of the four men was delayed last year after Payen refused to leave his cell, forcing U.S. marshals to bring him to court in a wheelchair. The proceedings resumed after McMahon determined he was malingering.
The case is U.S. v. Cromitie, 09-cr-00558, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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