Nine members of the Black Hebrews religious sect, who entered surprise guilty pleas in December to charges in connection with a multimillion-dollar international crime ring, were sentenced yesterday -- bringing to a close one of the most expensive criminal prosecutions ever undertaken here.
Chief U.S. District Judge Aubrey E. Robinson Jr. gave six of the men, including Warren Brown, the U.S. leader of the Black Hebrews, suspended sentences and three of the men were credited for time already served. The six given suspended sentences each received five years' probation and were ordered to perform community service, according to the U.S. attorney's office.
The nine Black Hebrews had been convicted in July 1986 on federal racketeering charges for operating the crime ring that trafficked in millions of dollars worth of stolen airline tickets and used bogus credit cards and worthless checks to purchase merchandise. Their trial was believed to be the longest and most expensive ever in federal court in the District. Their convictions were overturned last summer on appeal, while they were in prison. In December they pleaded guilty in an agreement with the government.
Three pleaded guilty to a single count of wire fraud and a single count of interstate transportation of a forged security. They are Brown, 56, also known as Prince Asiel; James Stone, 39, known as Yeriel, and J.C. Vortis, 38, known as Navee.
According to the U.S. attorney's office, all three yesterday received suspended sentences of 15 years' and five years' probation and were ordered to acquire "gainful employment" and remain in the D.C. area.
Each of the other six men pleaded guilty to a single count. Three received suspended sentences, probation and orders for community service. The men and charges are: Cordell DeBardelaben, 27, known as Sadiekiel, interstate transportation of a motor vehicle; Gerald Bethea, 43, known as Ben Kiel, wire fraud; and Thomas Cavin, 30, known as Navaniel, wire fraud.
Three others were credited for time served. They are Gregory Coles, 25, known as Rooakiel, interstate transportation of a stolen motor vehicle; Darryl Grissom, 28, known as Amatsyah, wire fraud, and Kevin Robinson, 28, known as Smiel, wire fraud.