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24869: Hermantin (News) Former Haitian police commander guilty in drug case
leonie hermantin <email@example.com>
Former Haitian police commander guilty in drug case
By Ann W. ONeill
April 21, 2005
A former commander of investigations for the Haitian National Police
admitted in federal court Wednesday to taking more than $760,000 in
protection money from Colombian cocaine traffickers using the impoverished
island as a stopover.
Rudy Therassan, 40, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Donald Graham
to conspiring to import cocaine into the United States and launder drug
money. He has agreed to cooperate with U.S. investigators in hopes of
shortening a minimum, 10-year prison sentence.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Lynn Kirkpatrick said in court that Therassan was
one of several corrupt Haitian police officials who helped Colombian
traffickers unload more than a ton of cocaine from planes allowed to land on
Haiti's Highway 9.
The cocaine then was shipped to the United States.
Therassan agreed to forfeit assets he purchased with the drug money,
including cash, investment accounts, jewelry, and two houses in Wellington,
Palm Beach County.
Therassan's three daughters wiped tears from their eyes as he entered his
plea. He is to be sentenced on June 15.
Therassan was among seven Haitian police officials swept up last year in the
investigation of cocaine and corruption in the administration of ousted
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. That investigation is continuing.
He agreed to assist by telling what he knows to DEA and IRS agents and
testifying before grand juries and at trials. If prosecutors Kirkpatrick and
David Weinstein find that Therassan has provided "substantial assistance,"
they agreed to ask for a reduction in his sentence.
Court documents filed in connection with the case portrayed Therassan as a
corrupt cop who once took a list that implicated Haitian officials from the
pocket of a dead Haitian drug smuggler. Accounts differ, but some informants
identified Therassan as the killer, saying he was acting on orders from
someone higher up in the Haitian government, according to court documents.
For Therassan to receive a break in his sentence, prosecutors will have to
vouch that he committed no acts of violence, according to terms of his plea
Bush administration and U.S. Justice Department officials have said publicly
that authorities in Miami are looking into whether Aristide, once a populist
priest, was corrupted by drug money.
Carlos B. Castillo, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Miami,
declined comment. Ira Kurzban, a Miami lawyer who represents Aristide, has
denied the former president had any dealings with drug traffickers.
Ann W. O'Neill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 954-356-4531.
Copyright © 2005, South Florida Sun-Sentinel