A reading of U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon’s May 3 order denying motions for a new trial by the Newburgh 4 shows several additional criticisms of the government’s case. The judge esssentially ruled that those problems, while significant, could not overcome the jury verdict and legal precedent. Appeals to follow.
McMahon on Shahed Hussain, the informant who pushed the plot ahead on the FBI’s direction: “An ex-con with his own shady past and a pronounced history of lying for his own personal benefit.”
“Not everything that Hussain now claims (lead defendant James) Cromitie said was contemporaneously reported to the FBI…This omission (and many, many other bits of evidence) cast doubt on Hussain’s veracity…”
“Hussain’s lies at trial were mostly designed to cover up lies he told in the past…”
“There is no question in my mind that Hussain perjured himself at trial” in testimony about offering the quartet only $5,000 when he had actually offered $250,000.
“The fact he was a serial liar was certainly not kept from the jury.”
On James Cromitie, the lead defendant: “He certainly talked the talk during the long courtship between him and Hussain … But he was reluctant to walk the walk…Cromitie, who was desperately poor, accepted meals and rent money from Hussain, he repeatedly backed away from his violent statements when it came time to act on them.”
After Hussain offered Cromite $250,000, “Only when the offers became outrageously high–and when Cromitie was particularly vulnerable to them, because he had lost his job–did he finally succumb.”
“It is true that quite a bit of what Cromitie told Hussain turned out to be false or exaggerated.”
“There is not the slightest doubt in my mind that James Cromitie could never have dreamed up the scenario in which he actually became involved. And if by some chance he had, he would not have had the slightest idea how to make it happen.”
On who armed the fake bombs: “Hussain ‘armed’ then on the trip south, because Cromitie, despite ‘training,’ could not figure out how to do it.”
On David Williams’ role in the “plot” and the other two defendants: “The issue common to all three men is the conspicuous lack of any evidence about their thoughts on Jihad or terrorism prior to the time when they were recruited.”
“The government has not pointed to anything that [they] did or said that could possibly be characterized as ‘independent’ of the sting operation.”
On Williams’ lack of knowledge about the “plot.” “It is apparent that Cromite had not fully disclosed to Williams what he and Hussain were up to.”
“Nothing any of these men did was the product of any independent motivation on their parts.”
On the FBI role in “manufacturing” the crime: “It is beyond question that the government created the crime here.”
Alicia McWilliams, the aunt of David Williams, said she is planning a rally on June 7, the date of the sentencing, at the federal courthouse in Manhattan. She says she is now looking ahead to the appeals process, but the judge’s decision hit her hard.
“I felt like I had been punched in the stomach,” she says. “She pointed out everything they did wrong, but no one had the courage to stand up and do anything about it. I could see her giving them five years, but sending him away for life on a crime manufactured by the government is just unbelievable.”