Accused Terror Ringleader: I'm a Pothead

"I smoke (marijuana) regularly," he tells judge

By Alice McQuillan and Michael Clancy
|  Thursday, May 21, 2009  |  Updated 5:46 PM EDT
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"Our Police Department Continues to Make Us Safe"

AP

James Cromitie, right, admitted in court today that he had smoked weed yesterday before he was arrested in connection the terror plot.

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Not only did the terror plot go up in smoke, the alleged mastermind was high.

The ringleader of the four-man homegrown terror cell accused of plotting to blow up synagogues in the Bronx and military planes in Newburgh admitted to a judge today that he had smoked pot before his bust last night.

When U.S. Magistrate Judge Lisa M. Smith asked James Cromitie if his judgment was impaired during his appearance in federal court in White Plains, the 55-year-old confessed: “No. I smoke it regularly…I understand everything you are saying.”

The stunning revelation came as the accused plotters made their first court appearances following a dramatic arrest by the NYPD and FBI last night. The suspects drove in an SUV that law enforcement believed was laden with explosives ready to be detonated outside the Jewish centers. The men did not enter a plea and no bail request was made, but federal prosecutors warned that these were deadly men with murder on their minds.

“These are extremely violent men,” said Prosecutor Eric Snyder. “These are people eager to bring death to Jews.”

Cromitie and two brothers, Onta and David Williams, were present in court early in the day. The fourth suspect, Leguerre Payen, appeared later -- apparently after receiving medical treatment. 

The FBI and other agencies monitored the men and provided an inactive missile and inert C-4 to an informant for the defendants to use in their plot. Sources have stressed that there was "no chance" the plot could succeed and said the cell was quite unsophisticated.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said he believed the men knew each other through prison. They had long rap sheets for charges including drug possession and assault.

Though all four are accused in the domestic terror plot, David Williams was singled out by prosecutors as being particularly violent.
 
“When he bought a gun in a Brooklyn project, he said that if the informant wasn’t there he would have shot the gang leader to get the $700 back,” Snyder said about a meeting between Williams and an alleged Blood gangster in Brooklyn.

The men are due back in court on June 5 and defense attorney Suzane Brody reserved the right to request bail.

“Of course, there is more to the story,” said Brody.
 

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