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Defense Tries To Show FBI Agent Was Overzealous in Bronx Synagogue Bomb Case

Friday, August 27, 2010

During a meeting at a diner in October 2008, confidential FBI informant Shaheed Hussain told James Cromitie what he thought of Jews: "Every evil that happens in the world is because of them, brother," he said, and someday "the brothers will need to come up with a solution to take that evil down."

I court on Thursday, defense lawyer Mark Gombiner pointed at the transcript where Hussain's statements are recorded, and directed a question at Hussain's handler, FBI agent Robert Fuller.

"Isn't it true that Mr. Hussain was telling Mr. Cromitie that Jews were the source of all evil?" Gombiner asks.

Fuller said yes.

"And when he was saying that," Gombiner continued, "he was trying to get Mr. Cromitie to commit a crime, wasn't he?"

"There's no mention of a crime," said Fuller, referring to the transcript of the conversation.

This is the dance between the government and defense lawyers that jurors will see for weeks to come in the trial of four Newburgh men accused of plotting to blow up Bronx synagogues and military planes. As prosecutors attempt to persuade the court that a confidential informant only facilitated a plot designed and pursued by four hate-filled anti-Semites, defense lawyers will argue the government illegally entrapped their clients into committing crimes they would have never otherwise dreamt up.

Defense lawyers sought to portray Fuller as an agent who was eager to arrest the defendants on something. In his second day under cross-examination, Fuller said he was concerned at one point his investigation was going to grow cold. Defense attorney Vincent Briccetti had him read out loud an email he wrote at the time, in which Fuller said he wanted the informant to urge Cromitie to buy an illegal gun off the street. That way, if Cromitie ever tried to pull out of a plan to bomb Jewish temples and shoot down planes at Stewart International Airport, their investigation wouldn't be wasted -- in their "back pocket" they would have an arrest warrant against Cromitie for illegal gun possession.  

Prosecutors objected immediately, and the document was stricken from the record. But hours later, after the court had adjourned for lunch, prosecutors made sure to clarify. They asked Fuller to explain why the FBI arranged for the men to buy a gun. Without pausing, Fuller said, "To get illegal guns off the street."

Briccetti also asked Fuller about a memo he had written to security officials at Stewart Airport stating that Cromitie would be surveying the airport, but was "unlikely to commit an act without the support of an FBI source." Fuller later clarified that he only meant Cromitie would not be able to acquire a heat-seeking Stinger missile and shoot it without the FBI's help.

Transcripts from meetings between Cromitie and Hussain showed Cromitie making distasteful remarks about Jews. But Briccetti suggested that Cromitie was a loud-mouth prone to over-the-top declarations. He asked Fuller to confirm that Cromitie lied to Hussain about doing 15 years for attempted murder when he has never been charged with a violent crime, that he told Hussain he once shot gas bombs into a Bronx police station, when he never did, and that he said he stole handguns while on the job at Walmart, when Walmart stopped selling handguns long ago.  

The four defendants are all facing up to life in prison for eight terror-related charges.

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Comments [2]

Incredulous from Puget Sound

I haven't seen a more convincing example of entrapment in quite a while. Our Fascist state is at it again.
With actions such as this being taken by these jack-booted thugs with the blessings of "our" corporate government, can anyone even begin to harbor doubts as to what they's claim when they want to come after YOU?
This underhand approach to "justice" once again emphasizes my shame at being an American.

Aug. 29 2010 05:26 PM

Here's how I see it and probably 50 other people in any direction. Does it really matter how Mr. Fuller went about this whole thing. Some say they never would have done this to begin with without being pushed but do they make a big fuss about sting ops for pedo's? What's so different about this. Mr Fuller didn't put anyone in harms way accept those who probably would have done it either way. If it wasn't him setting it all up it would have been some terror bent radicalist. I for one support Mr. Fuller. Good job man. Keep it up. People like him is what makes us safe. No matter how they get the bad ones off the street.

Aug. 27 2010 05:15 PM

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