updated 5/19/2010 2:43:19 PM ET 2010-05-19T18:43:19

A federal judge has refused to dismiss the criminal case against four men who claimed they were entrapped by a federal informant into a plot to bomb synagogues and shoot down military planes.

Judge Colleen McMahon said precedents establish that even when the government helps commit a crime, others can be prosecuted.

"In case after case, governmental activity that facilitated the commission of a crime has been held not sufficiently outrageous to warrant dismissal of an indictment," the judge wrote in a ruling filed Tuesday.

Defense attorney Vincent Briccetti and the U.S. attorney's office declined to comment.

Defendants James Cromitie, 44; Onta Williams, 32; David Williams, 28; and Laguerre Payen, 27, are accused of placing what they thought were bombs outside two Bronx synagogues. The men, all from Newburgh, also are accused of planning to use what they thought was a live Stinger missile against planes at an upstate Air National Guard base.

They have pleaded not guilty and face up to life in prison if convicted.

The men's request for dismissal said that the alleged plot was "a government-inspired creation from day one." They said an informant chose the targets, offered payment, provided maps and bought the only real weapon involved, a handgun. They alleged "outrageous government conduct."

McMahon said the government "does not exactly deny devising and financing the details of the plot." Prosecutors claimed their agent had to act as if he were taking part "in order to gather evidence of illegal conduct, and perhaps even to prevent some jihadist act from actually taking place."

McMahon said she might look at the issue of government misconduct again after the trial. She said if she ruled on "how the scenario took place," she might be intruding on questions a jury should take up.

But she expressed doubt that the claim of government misconduct would succeed, even if taken to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

"It seems unlikely that our Court of Appeals would ever find anything short of extreme physical or psychological coercion to be sufficiently outrageous to warrant dismissal of an indictment," McMahon said.

McMahon also ruled against motions to dismiss individual counts against the four men.

Their trial is scheduled for June 14.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments