Three Suspected FALN Members Sentenced To 35 Years In Bombing
CHICAGO (AP) _ Three suspected members of the Puerto Rican nationalist group FALN were sentenced Friday to 35-year prison terms for plotting Fourth of July bombings of two military installations in 1983.
A fourth defendant received a suspended sentence and five years’ probation.
U.S. District Judge George Leighton, who presided over their five-week trial last summer, handed down the sentences in a tightly secured courtroom packed with the defendants’ supporters and relatives.
All four - Alejandrina Torres, Edwin Cortes, Alberto Rodriguez and Jose Luis Rodriguez - were convicted Aug. 5 of seditious conspiracy.
Federal prosecutors charged they had planned to bomb a Marine training center and an Army Reserve center, both in Chicago. Neither installation was bombed.
Federal authorities said all four were members of the FALN - a Spanish acronym for the Armed Forces of National Liberation.
The group, whose stated goal is independence for Puerto Rico, has claimed responsibility for more than 100 bombings or planned bombings since 1974. Prosecutors say six people have been killed and more than 100 wounded in FALN violence.
Cortes and Alberto Rodriguez also were found guilty of planning to rob a public-transit money collector to finance their activities, and of stockpiling weapons and blasting materials in ″safe houses.″
Ms. Torres, Cortes and Alberto Rodriguez represented themselves during the proceedings and said they did not recognize the authority of U.S. courts. They also refused to confirm or deny that they were members in the FALN. The three were sentenced to five years’ probation in addition to the prison terms.
Jose Luis Rodriguez, who received no jail term, has denied membership in the FALN and was the only defendant represented by an attorney. He also was the only defendant to attend the sentencing. The other three remained in the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center.
He was convicted on one count of seditious conspiracy. The conviction carried a maximum penality of 20 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.
″Of course I’m pleased that he wasn’t put in jail,″ said Luis Rodriguez’s attorney, Michael Deutsch. ″I wasn’t expecting it. ... We always said he shouldn’t have been prosecuted in the first place.″
He said of the other sentences: ″I think it’s excessively harsh. There was no evidence they actually did anything, just that there was plotting and planning.″
Here are the details of the convictions, in addition to the seditious conspiracy convictions, and possible penalties:
- Cortes, 30, all eight counts in the indictment including unlawful possession of firearms, storing explosive materials and conspiring to make firearms, maximum 81-year term and a $76,000 fine.
- Ms. Torres, 46, seven of the eight counts, maximum 61-year sentence and a $66,000 fine.
- Alberto Rodriguez, 32, five of the eight counts, maximum 65-year sentence and a $60,000 fine.
About 35 demonstrators arrived at the courthouse Friday morning and, watched by about 30 police officers, marched with red flags, urging support of the FALN and chanting slogans in Spanish and English such as: ″Grand jury, FBI - U.S. justice is a lie.″