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Organizers of Boat Race to Cuba Cleared

Associated Press
Sunday, October 31, 2004; Page A10

KEY WEST, Fla. -- A judge dismissed charges against the organizers of a sailboat race from Key West to Cuba after they were accused of violating federal laws against trading with enemy nations.

Peter Goldsmith and Michele Geslin had been charged with two counts of providing unlicensed travel services to Cuba. Had they been convicted of both counts, they could have faced 15-year prison sentences.

"The defendants certainly feel vindicated," Mario Cano, Goldsmith's attorney, said on Friday.

Carlos B. Castillo, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, said officials were reviewing the decision.

Crews competing in the Key West Sailing Club Conch Republic Cup departed May 22, 2003, for Havana and several Cuban shore communities after receiving warnings before the race that they would be violating U.S. licensing regulations. About 20 boats took part in the race, which was then in its third year.

U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King said in his ruling that the regulations in effect at the time did not bar coordinated travel by independent participants in a sailboat race.

The sailors' registration fees were used to pay for T-shirts, trophies and a party in Key West, and did not constitute travel services, the ruling said.


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