By Tony Hanson
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A federal judge has ordered a 69-year-old man held without bail pending trial on charges he lied to get U.S. citizenship, failing to disclose a role in a rebel group federal authorities allege committed atrocities in Liberia in the early 1990’s.
KYW’s Tony Hanson reports the defendant had been a permanent legal resident but sought citizenship several years ago.
The prosecution argued defendant Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu is a risk of flight from prosecution because he still has strong ties to Liberia, is currently running for Senate there and he lied in the citizenship application about his leadership role in the National Patriotic Front of Liberia in the 1990’s.
Defense attorney Benjamin Perez countered.
“Being forced to leave this country is a potential collateral consequence of being convicted of any of these charges. That would be a catastrophic outcome for someone who has lived for 40 years peacefully in the United States. He has six children, 18 grandchildren, all of whom are residents in the United States. One of his children is a Lieutenant in the United States Navy. He has serious community ties,” says Perez.
But Woewiyu, who has pleaded not guilty to the federal charges, will remain in custody.