Last of 4 in NY FBI sting gets 25 years

Men were convicted of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction


By Larry Neumeister
Associated Press

NEW YORK — The last of four men convicted in an FBI sting operation aimed at New York City synagogues was sentenced Wednesday to 25 years in prison.

The sentence handed down to Laguerre Payen in Manhattan matched the terms given in June to his three co-defendants, James Cromitie, David Williams and Onta Williams for the plot to blow up synagogues and shoot down military planes.

The men were convicted of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction and other charges.

The sting began after the FBI in 2008 assigned an informant to infiltrate a mosque in Newburgh, about 70 miles north of New York.

The men's trial featured two weeks of testimony by the informant, Shahed Hussain, a Pakistani immigrant.

After meeting Cromitie at the mosque, Hussain told him he was a representative of a Pakistani terrorist organization that was eager to finance a holy war on U.S. soil.

Prosecutors alleged that in meetings with Hussain, Cromitie hatched the scheme to blow up the synagogues in the Bronx with remote-controlled bombs and to shoot down cargo planes at the Air National Guard base in Newburgh with heat-seeking missiles.

They said he also recruited the other men to be lookouts with promises of money. Onta and David Williams are not related.

Agents arrested the men in 2009 after they planted the devices — fakes supplied by the FBI — in the Riverdale section of the Bronx while under heavy surveillance.

In one of several videos played at trial, the men were seen inspecting a shoulder missile launcher in a bugged warehouse in Connecticut two weeks before the planned attack. At the end of the tape, Cromitie, two of his cohorts and the informant bow their heads in prayer.

Jurors also heard tapes of Cromitie ranting against Jews and U.S. military aggression in the Middle East.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press

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