By Kim Ives, Haiti Liberté, June 27, 2017
Following a plea deal struck in April, U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga on Jun. 21 in Miami sentenced former Haitian soldier, police officer, paramilitary leader, presidential candidate, and Senator-elect Guy Philippe, 49, to 108 months in U.S. Federal prison for laundering up to $3.5 million in drug money between 1999 and 2003.
If he had gone to trial and been convicted of the other two charges against him for drug trafficking and “Engaging in Transactions Derived from Unlawful Activity,” Philippe could have been sent to jail for life. Instead, those charges were dropped, and, as recommended by prosecutors, he received the minimum sentence allowed in a plea bargain on the remaining charge of money laundering. With good conduct, he could get out of jail in seven and a half years, or 2024. Judge Altonaga said that Philippe would be on probation for three years after serving his sentence but will almost surely be deported back to Haiti.
“There was also a $1.5 million judgement entered against him for forfeiture, so the government is allowed to go after assets up to the amount of $1.5 million,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Lynn M. Kirkpatrick after the sentencing hearing.
The sentencing, which had originally been scheduled for Jul. 5, took all of ten minutes.
Outside the courthouse, about a dozen demonstrators convened by the Miami-based Haitian popular organization Veye Yo, founded by the late Rev. Gérard Jean-Juste three decades ago, denounced Philippe’s close association with Haitian President Jovenel Moïse and condemned the sentence as too lenient.
“We told the judge that nine years was too little and to add…