04/23/2012

Chicago fake-bomb suspect pleads guilty

Undercover FBI agents gave man, 24, a fake device

Associated Press

CHICAGO — A U.S. man accused of placing a backpack he thought held a bomb near a major Chicago sports field pleaded guilty to weapons charges Monday and could face up to 30 years in federal prison.

Lebanese immigrant Sami Samir Hassoun, 24, admitted he took what he thought was a bomb and dropped it into a trash bin near Wrigley Field with the intent to harm many people. The fake device was given to him by undercover FBI agents who had been tipped off by an informant.

Hassoun believed an attack would have the ability to "paralyze" Chicago commerce, according to the plea deal, which also requires him to cooperate with the government.

When the hearing ended, Hassoun turned and blew a kiss to relatives in the courtroom.

Defense attorneys declined to talk to reporters after the hearing. They have described Hassoun, a one-time bakery worker, as gullible and prone to boasting but without links to extremists.

Hassoun pleaded guilty to one count each of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempted use of an explosive device. The U.S. Attorney's office said it would recommend a prison sentence of 30 years.

Hassoun has been in federal custody since his 2010 arrest and faces at least 20 years in prison when he is sentenced Aug. 15. He had previously pleaded not guilty and, if convicted at trial, would have faced life in prison.

Copyright 2012 Associated Press

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