THREE MEN EACH SENTENCED TO 25 YEARS IN PRISON FOR PLOTTING TO BOMB BRONX SYNAGOGUES AND SHOOT DOWN U.S. MILITARY PLANES

United States Attorney
Southern District of New York
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: U.S. ATTORNEY’S OFFICE
JUNE 29, 2011 ELLEN DAVIS, JERIKA RICHARDSON,

PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the
Southern District of New York, announced that JAMES CROMITIE,
DAVID WILLIAMS, and ONTA WILLIAMS, were each sentenced today to
25 years in prison for plotting to bomb synagogues in the
Riverdale section of the Bronx, New York, and to use Stinger
surface-to-air guided missiles to shoot down military planes
located at the New York Air National Guard Base at Stewart
Airport in Newburgh, New York. The defendants were convicted in
October 2010 after a two-month jury trial. United States
District Judge COLLEEN McMAHON, presided over the trial and
imposed today’s sentences.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney PREET BHARARA said: “James
Cromitie, David Williams, and Onta Williams voluntarily agreed to
target synagogues and military planes using what they thought
were real bombs and missiles. As reflected in the sentences
imposed by Judge McMahon, these were extremely serious crimes
that targeted New York and its citizens. Today’s sentences
ensure that the defendants will be punished for their actions.”
According to the evidence presented at trial and other
documents and proceedings in this case:
In June 2008, an informant working with the FBI was
approached by CROMITIE in Newburgh, New York. CROMITIE explained
to the informant that his parents had lived in Afghanistan and
that he was upset about the war there. CROMITIE expressed
interest in returning to Afghanistan and said that if he were to
die a martyr, he would go to “paradise.” He also expressed an
interest in doing “something to America.”
The following month, CROMITIE and the informant
discussed Jaish-e-Mohammed, a Pakistan-based designated Foreign
Terrorist Organization, with which the informant claimed to be
involved. CROMITIE stated that he would be interested in joining
the organization to “do jihad.”
During further meetings with the informant, CROMITIE,
DAVID WILLIAMS, ONTA WILLIAMS, and a fourth defendant, LAGUERRE
PAYEN, discussed their desire to attack certain targets in New
York, including synagogues in the Bronx and military aircraft
located at the Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, New York.
CROMITIE asked the informant to supply surface-to-air guided
missiles and explosives for the planned operations. The
informant responded that he could provide CROMITIE with C-4
plastic explosives.
After CROMITIE, DAVID WILLIAMS, ONTA WILLIAMS, and
PAYEN selected the synagogues they intended to target and
conducted surveillance of military planes at the Air National
Guard Base, CROMITIE, DAVID WILLIAMS, and PAYEN drove with the
informant toward Stamford, Connecticut, to obtain what the
defendants believed would be a surface-to-air guided missile
system and three improvised explosive devices (“IEDs”) containing
C-4 plastic explosive material. The informant provided the
defendants with a Stinger surface-to-air guided missile provided
by the FBI that was not capable of being fired, telling the
defendants that he had obtained it from Jaish-e-Mohammed. The
informant also provided three IEDs that each contained over 30
pounds of inert C-4 plastic explosives, again telling the
defendants that he had obtained them from Jaish-e-Mohammed.
CROMITIE, DAVID WILLIAMS, and PAYEN transported these weapons
back to Newburgh.
Two days later, CROMITIE, DAVID WILLIAMS, ONTA
WILLIAMS, and PAYEN met to inspect the “missile system” and the
“explosive devices” and to further discuss the logistics of the
operation. Law enforcement officers arrested the four men on May
20, 2009, as they took active steps to carry out the operation.
CROMITIE, DAVID WILLIAMS, and ONTA WILLIAMS, were each
found guilty of one count of conspiracy to use weapons of mass
destruction within the United States, three counts of attempting
to use weapons of mass destruction within the United States, one
count of conspiracy to acquire and use anti-aircraft missiles,
one count of attempting to acquire and use anti-aircraft
missiles, and one count of conspiracy to kill officers and
employees of the United States. CROMITIE and DAVID WILLIAMS were
also found guilty of one count of attempting to kill officers and
employees of the United States.
* * *
In addition to the prison terms, CROMITIE, 45, DAVID
WILLIAMS, 30, and ONTA WILLIAMS, 35, all of Newburgh, New York,
were each sentenced by Judge McMAHON to five years of supervised
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release. CROMITIE and DAVID WILLIAMS were each ordered to pay an
$800 special assessment. ONTA WILLIAMS was ordered to pay a $700
special assesment.
LAGUERRE PAYEN was also convicted in October 2010 after
the jury trial. He will be sentenced at a later date.
Mr. BHARARA praised the FBI’s New York Joint Terrorism
Task Force — which principally consists of agents of the FBI and
detectives of the New York City Police Department — the New York
State Police, and the U.S. Air Force Office of Special
Investigations for their extraordinary work in the investigation
of this case. He also thanked the National Security Division of
the U.S. Department of Justice for its assistance in the case.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism
and International Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys DAVID
RASKIN, JASON P.W. HALPERIN, and ADAM HICKEY are in charge of the
prosecution.
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