Updated 10/18/2010 08:31 PM
Four Men Convicted Of Plotting To Blow Up Bronx Synagogues
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After deliberating for more than a week, a federal jury in Manhattan has convicted four men of plotting to blow up a synagogue and Jewish community center in the Bronx and shoot down military planes in Orange County.
James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen were charged with conspiracy and attempting to use weapons of mass destruction.
Cromitie and David Williams were found guilty on all eight charges. Payen and Onta Williams were convicted of all charges except for attempting to kill military officers.
They were arrested in May 2009 after planting what they believed were explosives at various locations in Riverdale.
Their attorneys have always claimed that the men were entrapped by a paid FBI informant, who then recorded hundreds of hours of conversations with the defendants that were used as evidence.
U.S. District Attorney Preet Bharara released the following statement in response to the conviction: "Homegrown terrorism is a serious threat, and today's convictions affirm our commitment to do everything we can to protect against it. The defendants in this case agreed to plant bombs and use missiles they thought were very real weapons of terrorism. We are safer today as a result of these convictions. We thank the members of the jury for their time and diligent service. We also commend the extraordinary work of the prosecutors, agents, and detectives who demonstrated unyielding dedication during the investigation and prosecution of this case."
Defense attorneys say they will appeal the verdict, saying several issues need to be addressed.
One juror was dismissed during deliberations after she and other jurors read transcripts of phone calls that were never in evidence.
"It's a miscarriage of justice and it will be addressed in the motions," said Onta Williams' attorney, Susanne Brody.
"It was an extraordinarily serious error and the government's mistake. The government concedes it was their error," said Payen's defense attorney, Sam Braverman. "I think that the larger question is, and our problem now is, we don't know and we will never know how impacted they were by those transcripts that they did read, that they should have never read."
The four men face up to life in prison when sentenced, and their families were disappointed by the verdict.
"You can send an informant in our [expletive] community, and using [expletive] people and find them all guilty," said Alicia McWilliams, the aunt of David Williams.
The jurors, who had deliberated for eight days following a seven-week case, told the judge they did want to speak to the media about their decisions. They were escorted to the subway station by court personnel.
The judge previously rejected a motion for a mistrial, after the 12th juror's dismissal.