NEW YORK (1010 WINS) — A former cargo handler, who authorities said was the mastermind in a foiled terror plot against John F. Kennedy International Airport, has been sentenced to life in prison in New York City Thursday.
1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reports Russell Defreitas had nothing to say at his sentencing
Russell Defreitas and another man had been convicted last August on multiple conspiracy charges.
Authorities said Defreitas, 67, told his confidantes that security was lax at the airport and that he knew all the back roads and weak spots.
Defreitas was arrested in 2007 after a former drug dealer-turned-informant infiltrated the scheme and recorded conversations detailing the plot to ignite underground fuel storage lines at Kennedy Airport that branched out throughout the Metropolitan-area.
Authorities said the plot was intended to be worse than 9/11 and bring the American economy to its knees.
WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell with details from the sentencing
Defreitas carried a long-time grudge against the government and its foreign policies but Attorney Mildred Whalen said his complaints and angry rhetoric to get even were nothing more than ego. “I think 15 years would’ve been more than enough to punish him for what he did and what he talked about,” Whalen said.
She insisted that Defreitas was nothing more than a trash talker and was “egged on” by the informant. In court papers, Whalen argued that the stories Defreitas told about the plot grew increasingly ridiculous and “rose to the level of absurd.”
However, federal authorities said Defreitas and his co-conspirators were a serious threat and had ties to international terror suspects working out of Guyana and Iran.
“Not only was the plot his idea, he explained that he’d been thinking about for years,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Marshall Miller said Thursday.
U.S. District Judge Dora Irizarry said that Defreitas, in his own words, proved he was dangerous, citing a recording of him predicting, “The whole of Kennedy will go up in smoke.”
“The bottom line is this was his baby. This was his plan,” Irizarry said.
Defreitas was one of four men charged in the plot. Abdel Kadir was sentenced in December to life in prison, Abdel Nur was sentenced to 15 years in prison and Kareem Ibrahim is awaiting trial.