Lawfuel – The Law Newswire – R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorn…

Lawfuel – The Law Newswire – R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Anthony V. Mangione, Acting Special Agent in Charge, United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, announced today the conviction of defendant Wilber Amati in connection with his participation in the attempted importation of five illegal immigrants into the United States.

Amati was convicted after trial of five counts of aiding and abetting the attempted importation of five individuals into the United States for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain, in violation of Title 8, United States Code, Section 1324(a)(2)(B)(ii). The five illegal immigrants were found aboard a speedboat bound for the Currie Park Boat Ramp in West Palm Beach, Florida. In addition to the five immigrants, two crewmen, Alcides Rey-Gracia and Alberto Lao, were found aboard the vessel. Both Rey-Gracia and Lao previously pled guilty and were each sentenced by the Hon. Daniel T. K. Hurley to five years’ imprisonment, followed by three years’ supervised release.

Amati was charged when Amati’s telephone records showed his communications with another co-conspirator in the Bahamas, where the voyage began. According to the evidence adduced at trial, three of the five immigrants were from the Dominican Republic. They were transported to Haiti, where the other two immigrants joined them. All five then traveled from Haiti to the Bahamas, where they boarded the vessel destined for West Palm Beach. Upon their arrival in West Palm Beach, they were to be taken to a house in the Miami area where they would be held until their relatives paid $4,000.

Sentencing is scheduled for August 14, 2007, at 11:00 a.m. before U.S. District Court Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks, in West Palm Beach, Florida. As to the first two counts, Amati faces a mandatory minimum sentence of three years’ imprisonment and a maximum of ten years’ imprisonment. As to counts three through five, Amati faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years’ imprisonment and a maximum of fifteen years’ imprisonment. Following his term of imprisonment, Amati faces a maximum of three years’ supervised release as to each count, and the Court can impose of a fine of up to $250,000 on each of the five counts.

Mr. Acosta commended the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office for their coordinated efforts in investigating this offense. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marie Villafana.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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