On 11/20/12, Judge Dowd handed down sentences for Brandon, Connor and Doug. The judge departed from the sentencing guidelines, which he called "grotesque." Doug got 11 1/2 years, Brandon 9 years and 9 months, and Connor 8 years and 1 month. While these sentences are significantly shorter than the prosecution was seeking, they are almost double what they would have been without the application of the terrorism enhancement. All three are appealing the judge's decision to apply the terrorism enhancement, and seeking shorter sentences.
Skelly's trial is still postponed pending mental health evaluation by the BOP. Please take a moment to write him a short letter - he's completely isolated (no phone calls, no visits, no writing implements) in a remote prison in Massachusetts, and needs your support.
Tony Hayne, the fifth man arrested, who took a cooperating plea deal in July, was sentenced on 11/30 to 6 years.
Today was the first day of Brandon, Doug and Connor's sentencing hearing, from 9 AM till almost 4 PM. The parties made opening statements, and then most of the day was spent examining and cross-examining Special Agent Ryan Taylor, the lead FBI agent involved with this case. Anthony Hayne also briefly testified, part of the plea agreement he entered into with the government in July.
The hearing will continue tomorrow morning at 10 AM. We'll post a more thorough update later this week. The actual sentencing for Brandon, Connor and Doug is scheduled for November 19th.
Also, Skelly's evaluation is scheduled to be completed today. Hopefully he'll be transferred back to Ohio soon.
*** Correction: The hearing begins at 9 AM, and our rally will start at 8 AM. ***
Connor, Doug and Brandon's sentencing hearing is Monday, November 5th at 9 AM at the Akron Federal Courthouse. At this hearing, the defendants' attorneys will argue against the inappropriate application of the "terrorism enhancement," a provision the government is pushing for which could potentially increase their sentences from five years to as much as life, as well as highlighting the role of the FBI in orchestrating the situation.
We will be there in support of the guys. Please join us at 8 AM outside the courthouse for a brief rally where we'll express our love and support (we'll be bringing signs) and build positive energy together before the hearing.
Cleveland 4 Continue Fight for Justice in Entrapment Case After Guilty Pleas
This Wednesday, three of the four young men known as the "Cleveland 4," Brandon Baxter, Doug Wright and Connor Stevens, entered into a non-cooperating plea agreement for all counts of the charges brought against them, but not to the government’s terrorism enhancement. The Cleveland 4 Support Committee continues to support Brandon, Doug, Connor and Josh during this time.
The sentencing for these three will not occur until after a hearing scheduled for November 5th and 6th. at which point Brandon, Doug and Connor will still have the opportunity to present evidence in court regarding unlawful entrapment actions by the FBI. Their sentence could range from five years to three lifetimes, with the defense and prosecution differing over the how federal sentencing guidelines would apply.
“We are distraught to see them plead guilty to these charges,” said Joshua Ehrlich of the Cleveland 4 Support Committee. “It is disturbing to see this situation unfold knowing that the FBI manufactured and carried out this so-called plot by means of coercion and manipulation.” The FBI has a long history of using counterintelligence tactics like infiltration, disruption and entrapment to undermine movements for social change. The government is also known for using such tactics to prey on those who are young, vulnerable and economically marginalized in order to carry out their political agenda.
Although claims of terrorism have been made against the defendants, the Cleveland 4 Support Committee believes that the actual terrorism has been perpetuated by the U.S. government against the public and those working for social change through movements like Occupy Wall Street. "This is not a case about homegrown terrorism, like the government would have us believe," said Julia Boyd of the Cleveland 4 Support Committee. "This is a case that was manufactured and carried out by the FBI in order to undermine political resistance in the United States and to satisfy a quota in its so-called war on terror."
On Wednesday, the 25th of July, a pre-trial hearing was held on motions put forward by the defense. However, at 9:00 am, the starting time of the hearing, it was clear that something was not right. All of the defendant’s were present except for Anthony Hayne and his lawyer, Michael O'Shea. Around 9:10 all of the lawyers went out into the hallway for a meeting with O'Shea. Meanwhile, the other four defendants were taken out to the courtroom. Soon after, all of the lawyers again entered the room and Anthony Hayne was brought into the court room wearing street clothes instead of the usual prison orange. Emotions were running high as what many of the supporters and loved ones feared the most unfolded before our eyes. Around 9:30 AM Anthony Hayne formally entered into a cooperating plea agreement with the government on the basis that he was found guilty on all three charges. The judge seemed hesitant about Hayne's move, as it included a mandatory minimum sentence of roughly 16-20 years in prison (188-235 months served). The exact amount of time served would be dependent on the level of cooperation with the government. Formal sentencing will not occur until the trial is concluded.
As the Cleveland 5 support group, as friends and loved ones of all of them, we are shocked by his decision. Particularly by his decision to enter into a plea that would, by its nature, require the exchange of information that would implicate and/or potentially make worse the case of his other co-defendants. As this is and will remain a political case, we can no longer express support and advocacy on the behalf of Anthony. As was explained to and agreed upon by the co-defendants, our support only exists as long as they stay strictly non-cooperative with the government. Anthony is no longer at CCA and we do not have information about where he was transferred to, and where he will spend the time of his incarceration. We our deeply saddened by his decision and hope that, in the end, it does not hurt the other four, who continue to struggle for the justice they deserve.