LAWFUEL – The US Law Newswire – R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Anthony V. Mangione, Special Agent in Charge, United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, announced today the sentencing of defendant Wilber Amati for his participation in the attempted importation of five illegal immigrants into the United States.
Today, United States District Court Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks sentenced Amati to 80 months’ imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release, and a $500 special assessment. The 80 month sentence was 20 months higher than the sentence called for by the federal Sentencing Guidelines. Judge Middlebrooks sentenced Amati to that additional twenty months’ imprisonment because Amati threatened the lives of two witnesses shortly before the trial began. As Judge Middlebrooks stated, the upward variance was a necessary deterrent because of Amati’s obstruction of justice, which was a “threat to the administration of justice.”
In June, Amati was convicted after trial on 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 were convicted by guilty pleas and were sentenced by the United States District Court Judge Daniel T. K. Hurley to five years’ imprisonment, to be followed by three years’ supervised release.
Amati was later charged when Amati’s telephone records showed his communications with another co-conspirator in the Bahamas, where the voyage began. 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. After a two-day trial, a federal jury sitting in West Palm Beach returned a verdict of guilty on all five counts.
Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ann Marie C. Villafana.