FBI: Informant close to entrapping would-be bomber
- Associated Press
- February 4, 2013 - 7:39 PM
CHICAGO - Attorneys for a young Lebanese immigrant who pleaded guilty to placing what he thought was a bomb in a backpack near Wrigley Field have disclosed FBI notes that indicate agents feared an informant might entrap the Chicago man during their investigation.
Sami Samir Hassoun admitted in a plea agreement last year that he took what he thought was a bomb from undercover FBI agents and put it into a trash bin near the home of the Chicago Cubs in the summer of 2010. He is due to be sentenced on April 12.
The informant played a central role by befriending Hassoun and later tipped off undercover FBI agents.
The FBI notes from March 1, 2010, were released in a court filing in which defense attorneys asked prosecutors to turn over more details about the informant, including how much the person was paid. In the notes, agents worried the informant "is or is close to committing entrapment with Sami." The informant was taken aside "and it was emphasized not to encourage Sami to get involved in illegal activity."
The notation was made in a section about Hassoun's alleged drug dealing, but it wasn't clear if the note referred only to drug dealing or to the bomb plot. Investigators are barred from inducing someone to commit crimes they otherwise wouldn't commit.
It wasn't clear when defense attorneys became aware of the FBI notes. On Monday, defense lawyer Alison Siegler and a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Chicago, Randall Samborn, both declined to comment the defense motion, which was filed on Friday.
After his arrests, Hassoun's lawyers described him as uniquely gullible, seemingly opening the door to the possibility of an entrapment defense. Instead, Hassoun pleaded guilty to one count each of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempted use of an explosive device. Prosecutors last year indicated they would recommend a prison sentence of 30 years.
The issue of what the informant was paid and the extent to which he led on Hassoun, the defense motion argues, is relevant because those who think up a crime on their own are typically penalized more than those who may have been egged on.
© 2015 Star Tribune