Assistant U.S. Attorney Bertha Mitrani said Williams squandered a second chance he was given in 2010 when investigators from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service warned him that money he received was part of a lottery or sweepstakes scam. Williams, a Jamaican citizen, was warned he could face prosecution if he continued to participate.
U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom rejected a request from defense lawyer John Cotrone to go easy on Williams.
"You had an opportunity to walk away from this criminal activity and you did not," the judge told Williams. She reminded him he had admitted taking money from elderly people who were deceived by him and his cohorts in South Florida and Jamaica.
Though Williams apologized, he tried to split hairs with the judge during his sentencing in federal court in Fort Lauderdale. He claimed he had no direct contact with the victims, did not realize how old they were and only took a percentage of the money before sending on the rest to Jamaica.
"That might be an attempt to minimize your conduct, sir, but I don't see it that way," the judge politely told him. The victims' lives were destroyed by the fraud and his punishment had to be "meaningful" and deter him and others, she said.
Meantime, there's a trial going on where a witness is wearing a disguise in a closed courtroom -- and this isn't in Russia. It's right here in Miami:
Two FBI undercover employees can testify at a terrorism trial in a Miami federal courtroom closed to the public, a judge ruled Friday, citing national security concerns.
***In court papers, Miami attorney Silvia Piñera-Vazquez argued the prosecution’s demands would deprive her client of a fair trial under the U.S. Constitution. She asserted the “government's actions in this case are eerily similar" to the prosecution described in Franz Kafka's The Trial.
In the classic novel, the attorney noted, “a bank teller was arrested and prosecuted by a remote, unidentified authority, of an unidentified crime, by unidentified witnesses, and eventually executed.”