Temple Bomb Bunglers Employ Fried-Chicken Defense

I'll look into whether there was a "Crown Chicken relationship," prosecutor says

By Jennifer Millman
|  Friday, Sep 18, 2009  |  Updated 11:00 AM EDT
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Temple Bomb Bunglers Employ Fried-Chicken Defense

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How much would you reveal for a drumstick?

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You've heard of the Twinkie defense. Well, here's the fried-chicken version.

An attorney for one of four men charged with plotting to blow up Bronx synagogues in May argued a confidential FBI informant plied information out of the men by bribing them with food, according to a published report.

Laguerre Payen, James Cromitie, David Williams and Onta Williams -- all of Newburgh -- have denied any wrongdoing in connection with the foiled terrorist plot against Bronx Jewish centers and an upstate airbase.

After the June arraignment that lasted less than half an hour, a woman claiming to be a close family friend of one of the accused called the federal case one of "entrapment," and said the FBI informant "played off of the needs" of these men.

Apparently those "needs" include fried chicken.

"You can't watch the tapes that you don't see eating going on," Marilyn Reader, attorney for Payen, told the Daily News. "The [confidential informant] is paying for all these meals."

The informant even has a charge account at a Crown Chicken on Broadway and allowed Payen to eat for free, Reader said at a pretrial hearing in White Plains Federal Court.

Assistant U.S. Attorney David Leibowitz said he would look into whether the informant plied the suspects with any sort of incentives – fried chicken or otherwise, reports the News.

"I'm going to inquire as to whether there was a Crown Chicken relationship," Leibowitz told the paper.

Defense attorneys have argued their clients were paid to participate in the plot and that they were entrapped. They also argue prosecutors withheld a tape of a discussion on April 23 that allegedly showed the suspects devising the terrorist plot.

Leibowitz says no recording was ever made, reports the News.

Authorities said they caught the alleged homegrown terrorists trying to plant what they thought were bombs outside two Bronx synagogues – a bust that prompted many temples throughout the five boroughs to step up their security measures.

The four men are scheduled to stand trial next June.

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