Judge Criticizes FBI’s “Unsavory” Tactics and Orders Release of Man Convicted in Agency-Invented Conspiracy

Newburgh, New York – A judge has ordered the release of James Cromitie, a man convicted in a post-9/11 terrorism sting, criticizing the FBI for its use of an informant to create a fabricated conspiracy. The judge granted Cromitie compassionate release from prison after he served 15 years of his 25-year minimum sentence. This decision comes six months after Cromitie’s three co-defendants, known as the Newburgh Four, were released for similar reasons.

The Newburgh Four, four men from a small city north of New York City, were convicted of terrorism charges in 2010. Prosecutors claimed that they had spent months planning to attack synagogues in the Bronx and shoot down planes at the air national guard base in Newburgh. However, they were arrested after unknowingly planting inert explosives provided by the FBI.

In a scathing ruling, US District Judge Colleen McMahon wrote that the FBI had invented the conspiracy and chose the targets. She stated that Cromitie and his co-defendants would not have come up with the criminal plot on their own, given their “buffoonery and ineptitude.” McMahon criticized the FBI for relying on an “unsavory” informant, Shaheed Hussain, who she described as a “villain” sent to manipulate vulnerable individuals into committing a fake crime.

Critics have accused federal agents of entrapment, claiming that the FBI targeted men who were already struggling after completing prison sentences. McMahon’s ruling supports these claims, highlighting the FBI’s role in creating the conspiracy and choosing Cromitie as a leader despite his documented incompetence.

Cromitie’s attorney, Kerry Lawrence, expressed satisfaction with the judge’s decision, stating that it provided vindication for what they believed was a miscarriage of justice. Lawrence maintained that his client’s conviction was the result of government entrapment, emphasizing the manipulative tactics employed by the informant.

Shaheed Hussain, the informant in Cromitie’s case, also worked with the FBI in a separate sting operation in Albany, New York, where two men were convicted of money laundering and conspiring to aid a terrorist group. The tactics used by the FBI have faced ongoing criticism from civil liberties groups.

The judge’s decision to release Cromitie highlights the concerns surrounding the FBI’s handling of terrorism stings and the potential for entrapment. With the release of all four defendants in the Newburgh case, questions arise about the validity and ethics of these operations. The ruling raises demands for greater accountability and transparency regarding the FBI’s use of informants in counterterrorism efforts.