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Posted December 21, 2007
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A 'Nightmare' For Liberty City 7 Ex-Defendant



Lyglenson Lemorin, acquitted of terrorism charges last week in federal court in Miami, is still a guilty man in the eyes of the U.S. government.

Lemorin, 32, a lawful U.S. resident, remains behind bars -- far from his Miami family -- in the tiny town of Lumpkin, Ga., a deportation center 150 miles south of Atlanta.

On Thursday, Lemorin's wife learned from The Miami Herald that federal authorities have charged her husband with unspecified ''administrative immigration violations'' and that he has been placed in ''removal proceedings'' that could lead to his deportation to his native Haiti.

''He has kids here, and we really need him home,'' said Lemorin's wife, Charlene Mingo Lemorin. ``He can't do anything for us in Haiti. Everything was settled by the jury. He was found not guilty. It's like the nightmare is not over.''

Family members say they are upset and dumbfounded because Lemorin has lived in South Florida for more than two decades and has no criminal history.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials declined to discuss Lemorin's alleged immigration violations.

''He was detained by ICE, and for safety and security reasons, we can't say where he is,'' agency spokeswoman Barbara Gonzalez told The Miami Herald.

Lemorin was arrested along with six other men in June 2006 on charges of conspiring with al Qaeda -- in an FBI-directed undercover sting -- to blow up Chicago's Sears Tower and federal buildings in Miami and other cities. They were dubbed the ``Liberty City 7.''

A federal jury found him not guilty on Dec. 13. Jurors deadlocked on the others, with a retrial set to begin Jan. 7.

The day after he was acquitted, immigration agents whisked Lemorin away to Miami International Airport.

Lemorin -- born in Haiti, raised in Miami and the father of two children who live in Little Haiti -- told his family and attorneys that he feared the agents were going to put him on a plane to his native Haiti.

Instead, they drove him to the Krome detention center in West Miami-Dade County. Then came an overnight drive to the Stewart detention center in Lumpkin.

Leonard Fenn, who temporarily represented Lemorin in the immigration case, expressed outrage over the government's actions.

''We're presuming they're claiming there is reason to believe he was a supporter of terrorist activities or a terrorist himself,'' said Fenn, who got on the case through Lemorin's criminal attorney, Joel DeFabio.

''It's outrageous -- a complete misallocation of government resources,'' Fenn said.

Immigration experts said that under the U.S.A. Patriot Act, adopted after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a lawful U.S. resident such as Lemorin may still be locked up and possibly deported on terrorism-related charges -- even if they cannot be proved beyond a reasonable doubt in federal court.

Miami attorney Cheryl Little, who heads the Florida Immigration Advocacy Center, said Lemorin's arrest by ICE may be ''overreaching but not unprecedented'' in the post-9/11 era, in which non-U.S. citizens acquitted at trial on drug-trafficking or other charges are sometimes picked up and dumped into the immigration legal system. Her center agreed to represent Lemorin, whose first immigration court hearing is set for Jan. 8.

Lemorin's attorneys and family now fear he will be charged with the same terrorism-related conspiracy offenses in immigration court, where an administrative judge -- not a jury of his peers -- decides his fate.

There is no principle of double jeopardy barring his prosecution on the same charges, and the burden of proof is based on a weaker civil standard, the weight of the evidence tipping one way or the other.

Lemorin's family members say the terrorism case against him was ''bogus,'' a conclusion reached unanimously by the 12-member, racially mixed federal jury that concluded he had ''distanced himself'' from his colleagues in the Liberty City group.

Until his arrest, Lemorin's life in America was like that of countless South Florida immigrants.

Lemorin was born in Haiti in 1975 and left for Miami with his family in the 1980s. They settled into a one-story stucco home in a working-class neighborhood on Northwest 45th Street, a few blocks from Interstate 95. One of eight children, Lemorin attended Shadowlawn Elementary School, Miami Edison Middle School and Miami Edison Senior High School.

He obtained his general equivalency diploma and a security guard license from the state of Florida, continuing to live with his mother, Julienne Olibrice. Lemorin's father died from a heart attack in Miami in 1997.

Lemorin fathered two children with Linda Polydor, a woman he had met as a youth growing up in the Little Haiti area. Polydor, who lives just a couple of blocks north of Lemorin's mother, described him as a ''decent man'' whose life was turned upside down by the FBI's investigation into the Liberty City 7.

Lemorin got to know the group's ringleader, Narseal Batiste, by working odd jobs at his construction company and participating in his religious group, the Moorish Science Temple, which combines Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths. Batiste began talking about terrorism plans with an FBI informant, who posed as al Qaeda representative. With promises of money, the informant led Batiste and his followers deep into a terrorism plot, including taking loyalty oaths to al Qaeda in March 2006.

But Lemorin had serious reservations, later telling the FBI that he knew ''nothing good would come from this.'' Indeed, in April, he moved with his future wife and two children to Atlanta to start over. He and Charlene married the following month.

Charlene said her husband got a job as a stock clerk with Abercrombie & Fitch, and she worked as a hair stylist.

''He wanted to distance himself from the group, and we wanted to pursue our business careers and a better place for our children,'' said Charlene, adding that her husband wrote rap songs and wanted to break into the record business.

Their hopes were shattered when the FBI arrested him that June amid nationwide publicity about the case. ''I was very shocked,'' she said.

Charlene returned to Miami, where the couple's first child, a baby girl named Diniah Lemorin, was born prematurely on Oct. 26, 2006, while Lemorin was in custody at the federal detention center in downtown Miami.

The baby died less than three weeks later, said Charlene, who had high blood pressure during her pregnancy.

Charlene, who undergoes kidney dialysis because of complications from her pregnancy, now fears the worst: ``It seems to me that they just want to send him away to Haiti.''

Copyright 1996-2007 The Miami Herald Media Company. Reprinted from The Miami Herald of Thursday, December 20, 2007.

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