Monday, April 20, 2015

One-Time Haitian Kingpin To Be Freed From Prison After Helping Feds In Miami

Onetime Haitian kingpin Jacques Ketant to be freed from prison after helping feds in Miami

A onetime Haitian cocaine kingpin who had accused former President Jean Bertrand Aristide of accepting drug-related bribes will soon be released from a U.S. prison after helping prosecutors convict a dozen fellow traffickers, government officials and police officers in a long-running case that exposed Haiti as a “narco-state.”
Beaudouin “Jacques” Ketant saw his 27-year sentence chopped in half on Friday by a federal judge after the U.S. attorney's office in Miami recommended that reduction because of his “substantial assistance” as a witness in other successful prosecutions.

The one major exception: Aristide, though investigated for years, was never charged in connection with Ketant’s sprawling case.

Ketant, 52, has been held at a low-security federal correctional institution in Louisiana and will soon be transferred to immigration authorities. He plans to fight his deportation because of the potential danger that might await him if he returns to his homeland, where Aristide's former bodyguard was recently killed — possibly for cooperating with U.S. authorities after serving a three-year prison sentence in this country.

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His defense attorneys, Ruben Oliva and Paul Petruzzi, said their client, who has been in prison since 2003, was “ecstatic” over U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno's decision to grant prosecutor Lynn Kirkpatrick’s recommendation to reduce his sentence by half: 13 1/2 years.
“He's been on a long, rough journey,” Oliva told the Miami Herald on Monday. “We’re very happy for him.”

“We expect he will be released from federal prison shortly,” Oliva added. “There are avenues that he could pursue to remain in the United States.”

Among them: The Convention Against Torture, a United Nations treaty signed by the United States.
Ketant’s lawyers and prosecutors had initially discussed his proposed sentence reduction three years ago. But it was dramatically delayed after the judge received a letter from a local Haitian man who claimed the drug trafficker had ordered the “assassination” of his mother — Ketant’s former mother-in-law — back in 1997. Claudie Adam was gunned down at a West Kendall shopping center.

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