Trial Day 10: Undercover Agents and Immigration Forms
Before the jury was called into the courtroom on Tuesday morning, trial began with a discussion of, and Judge Anita B. Brody’s ruling on, the motion presented yesterday by the prosecution to preclude the defense’s proposed immigration law expert witness.
Defense counsel responded to the prosecution’s motion, explaining that while the Federal Rules of Evidence require giving opposing counsel notice of any expert report to be presented, the proposed witness has no expert report. Defense counsel also stated that the proposed witness will not present expert testimony on the defendant’s mental condition. Defense counsel mentioned that although the government never requested a summary about the witness’s proposed testimony, the defense had nevertheless provided a summary.
The proposed expert is “going to testify to something relatively simple,” defense counsel argued, but said the citizenship process is nonetheless outside the scope of knowledge of ordinary people. The defense laid out a timeline for the judge of four central points to which the proposed expert could give context: the submission of Woewiyu’s Citizenship Application in January 2006; the hearing on the Application in January 2009; the provision of a supplement through Woewiyu’s immigration counsel in August 2009; and the final decision on the Application rendered in August 2010. Defense counsel explained that this timeline may not be wholly ordinary, but that the expert would testify that it was also not unusual. Defense counsel stated that the proposed expert would testify to how an application for citizenship is followed by a hearing, after which there are three possible outcomes: citizenship is granted, citizenship is immediately denied, or an Immigration Officer determines that further investigation needed. “In this case,” defense counsel said, “the latter happened.”
Defense counsel told the Court that shortly after the determination that further investigation was needed, Woewiyu was given a Form N-14, requesting additional information about his tax returns. He was subsequently given a second N-14, requesting “lots more information.” Defense counsel stated that Woewiyu was given a deadline to respond, and that he responded by the deadline through his immigration lawyer on August 14, 2009.
Defense counsel argued that “almost a full year went by before a decision was made” on August 12, 2010, and the jury could have questions about whether that length of time was unusual. The defense’s expert would testify that while that length of time is not seen in every case, it does happen. Defense counsel reminded the Court that in the defense’s opening, defense counsel had told the jury that the Citizenship Application form used today is different from the form that Woewiyu filled out in 2006.
Judge Brody recalled that when the defense moved earlier in the case to preclude a prosecution expert, she granted the motion. She asked whether that expert had any bearing on this determination, and defense counsel explained that witness was a historian as to the Liberian conflict, and was unrelated to the question of immigration.
The prosecution responded to the defense arguments by explaining the prosecution sought reciprocal discovery of expert witnesses in a discovery letter dated October 21, 2014.
Judge Brody told counsel that the “issue of prompt discovery has been very questionable as far as the government is concerned.” She explained that she had given the government “leeway” and had “extended deadlines.” The Judge stated that she was very understanding of concerns the government had, and that she would “extend the same graciousness to the defense.” Judge Brody ruled that the defense may call its proposed expert witness, but told defense counsel that because the issue was not a complicated one, the testimony would be restricted to the topics defense counsel had just described to the Court. Judge Brody explained that precedent suggested it was very important that everything about an expert be taken in context. Judge Brody also explained that the rules are meant to prevent parties from gaining unfair advantages, and to avoid surprises. Judge Brody said that the expert would be helpful to explain the theme of the defense, and that the jury could thus better understand the elements the defense is planning to present.
The prosecution pointed out that it had renewed a request for reciprocal discovery in 2018, and argued that what the defense’s expert would testify to would go towards Woewiyu’s intent. The prosecution was concerned that defense counsel would also solicit the expert’s opinion about why the government changed the Citizenship Application form and why it would be reasonable for Woewiyu to misunderstand the form, and called such testimony “prohibited.”
Judge Brody reminded counsel that “knowledge is very important,” as it is “the third element the government must prove.” She read from the proposed jury charge, which stated that the elements of the alleged crime included that Woewiyu acted knowingly and that he was aware his statements were false when he made them. Judge Brody reiterated her ruling that she will allow the defense to call the witness, but said they “must be very circumspect.”
Defense counsel then raised the question of whether they might seek a request that Judge Brody issue subpoenas to a number of federal agents and officers involved in investigations concerning Woewiyu. Defense counsel explained that the defense received a letter yesterday responding to a June 19 request to the Department of State (“State”) and Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”), denying the defense’s request to call the agents as witnesses. Defense counsel explained that, in order to procure the presence of government agents to testify for a defense, defense attorneys must follow certain regulations, requiring them to provide the government with a notice of the need for agents to testify, and a brief description of what the agents would testify to and its relevance.
Defense counsel explained that it sought subpoenas for four agents from DHS and one from State, because all spoke with Woewiyu in the past. Defense counsel stated that the timing of those discussions is important to the defense’s case because Woewiyu’s answers on his Application should be understood in context of his interviews in January 2009 and August 2009. Defense counsel reiterated that in both instances, DHS and State had denied the requests for the agents to testify.
The prosecution informed the court that, “I know they made the request, but I do not know most of the agents.” The prosecution stated that these are regulations the defense counsel is aware of, arguing that “it’s not as if these people came out of nowhere.” The prosecution stated that the defense had the information as to the agents’ past interviews with Woewiyu “for months, much of it years,” and pointed out that the request was nonetheless made during trial. The prosecution told the Court that the “agencies responded under their own regulations” by denying the defense request to call the agents, and that the agencies “have their “own relationship to this case,” so the particular agency should represent itself. The prosecution argued that this is what the “agencies’ regulations, and what the law, requires.”
Judge Brody responded, “Sometimes the law requires what I say it requires.” She asked the defense what the agents could be expected to testify to.
Defense counsel responded that the agents would speak about interviews conducted with Woewiyu in other cases. One was in relationship to an immigration case against George Boley, and that interview was performed on May 6, 2010 by an Immigration and Citizenship Enforcement (“ICE”) Special Agent. Defense counsel explained that calling the agents would allow the defense to develop the theme presented in the defense’s opening statement, that Woewiyu “was forthcoming about his time in the NPFL,” and “we know they believed him because they put him on their witness list.” The defense explained that George Boley was another person “of Liberian descent” whom the federal government investigated in an immigration case in New York. Defense counsel stated that Woewiyu provided a “lengthy” interview and statement in that case, and labelled the relevant ICE agents “critical” to show the jury that Woewiyu “was not someone who had the intent to deceive an immigration official, because that was who he was talking to” in his prior statement about Liberia.
Defense counsel explained that the relevant Department of State official to be subpoenaed conducted an interview with Woewiyu in 2006. Defense counsel told the Court that Woewiyu voluntarily went to State to tell the agency that he had heard about a death threat against a political person in Liberia, and that “I’m in the NPFL and know about it so I thought you should know.” Defense counsel again characterized this potential witness as “critical to our defense,” to develop the theory that Woewiyu “wouldn’t try to lie when he already gave willing interviews saying all of this.” Defense counsel argued it was important for the jury to hear evidence as to Woewiyu’s alleged intentional decision to try to deceive, as these agents could present evidence he had deliberately told them about his background.
The prosecution responded that the defense’s argument was “misleading” because both interviews occurred after Woewiyu had allegedly lied on his Citizenship Application, and after the subsequent requests for more information. The prosecution stated that “the people [Woewiyu] talked to” in the interviews were “not those making the determination about citizenship.” The prosecution stated that the interviewing agents worked for completely different agencies from the Department of Homeland Security. The prosecution argued that Woewiyu may have revealed his NPFL affiliations to make himself “more valuable to them” during his application process, and “he may have been trying to curry favor.” The prosecution also stated that Woewiyu “never testified in the Boley trial,” because “if he did, he would have had to come clean and plead guilty.”
Judge Brody informed the prosecution that the question to be decided was whether the agents’ expected testimony would be relevant to the jury.
The prosecution argued that the agents’ proposed testimony was not relevant to jury, and would instead confuse or mislead the jury. The prosecution said the defense wanted “to act as though the government is one giant organization,” but “if that was the case, then [Woewiyu] had no reason not to answer the questions honestly.” The prosecution also stated that the “2006” State interview “actually happened in 2007,” after Woewiyu “already made his initial misrepresentations.” The prosecution continued that it was “never a secret” to State that Woewiyu was a member of the NPFL, and pointed out that the prosecution in fact called three witnesses from State who testified to meetings with him. “But nobody gave him permission to lie,” the prosecution said. “They can’t get up and argue the oath is meaningless ‘because everybody knew.’ ‘Everybody knew’ is not a defense to perjury or any other immigration charge.”
Defense counsel explained its position that Woewiyu “gave his best answers to his knowledge and belief,” and said the government needed “to prove he intended to deceive on his immigration application.” Defense counsel stated that both interviews took place before the application was adjudicated, and so the jury should decide whether they were relevant, stating the jury “should hear evidence that Woewiyu met with law enforcement on two occasions and told them about his NPFL relationship.” Defense counsel explained that this theme was introduced in the defense’s opening statement, and that defense counsel “had no idea they would deny our subpoenas,” which is why the defense was requesting Judge Brody to compel the agents’ presence.
The prosecution noted that Department of State officers are not immigration officials.
Judge Brody stated that if the central issue is Woewiyu’s state of mind, then she must read the defense motion to decide if she must compel the agents to testify.
Witness 29: Gary Lang, Continued
Former U.S. Customs Service Special Agent Gary Lang then returned to the witness stand to continue his testimony. He recalled that his second meeting with Eugene Cox was on April 29, 1993.
The secret audio and visual recording of the meeting, a part of which was played yesterday, was again played for the jury. On the video, Cox said “I’ll get Tom to say that” he would write a promissory note guaranteeing payment against the weapons promised by Lang in his undercover role as an arms trafficker. Cox told Lang that “Tom” was leaving the country and would be gone for a “week or less.” The men discussed how best to communicate about the deal. Lang told Cox to call Lang at his house, and to say something like “When are you coming to New York?” or “My buddy’s coming on such-and-such a date.” The men discussed using payphones if they needed to talk in detail. Cox said, “We’ve got a done deal […] but still I want you to meet him.” Lang told Cox that “if he can put up commodities against this,” then “we’re good.”
The video was paused, and Lang testified that the men were discussing natural resources, because this was no longer a cash deal. Lang was going to get access, although not immediately, to Liberia’s natural resources in exchange for arms. The promissory note was to entitle Lang in his undercover persona to 25% of a certain amount of resources, maybe iron ore. The witness confirmed that when the men discussed “Tom,” they were talking about Thomas Woewiyu, the defendant. Lang told the jury that when Woewiyu was to be in New York after travelling, Cox wanted Lang to meet Woewiyu, “and I agreed.”
The witness identified and recognized a list that was first shown to him yesterday, the original copy of the notes he took during the meeting with Cox as to which weapons were wanted, and their quantities. He testified that there was a discussion between Cox and Lang’s confidential informant, and they started to write the same information on the back of polaroid photos, as to the available weapons, that Lang was writing in his notes. The jury examined the original document, and Lang told them that he recognized his own handwriting.
Lang confirmed that on the list, “6 ST” meant “6 Stinger missiles.” He explained that the number six was significant, because in a subsequent meeting, Woewiyu made a reference to “6 ST.” Lang testified that, from reviewing the recordings and transcripts, he recalled saying that the Stinger missile systems came with three rounds each, and that Woewiyu said, “That’s 18.” Lang also stated that “Red” meant the Redeye missile system.
Lang testified that he met with Woewiyu and Cox at John F. Kennedy International Airport (“JFK”) in New York at an airline lounge on or about May 12, 1993. He told the jury that he did not need his confidential informant to set up the meeting, as it was done directly with Cox. Lang confirmed that the meeting consisted only of himself, Cox, and Woewiyu. Lang testified that he wore a body wire for this third meeting with Cox and first meeting with Woewiyu, as he could not get a camera on the meeting. He stated that he learned after reviewing the transcripts and recordings that there was a camera outside of the lounge watching who was coming and going, and on its tape, Lang saw himself and the other two men enter and exit the lounge.
The witness recalled that they met at the entrance of the lounge and he introduced himself to Woewiyu and they sat down. Lang recalled that he was there “conducting other business,” and that he had camouflage material with him. He recalled that Cox said, “He’s busy,” and pointed to Lang, “I’m busy,” and pointed to himself, “he’s busy,” and pointed to Woewiyu, “so let’s get right to it.” Woewiyu introduced himself and handed Lang his Driver’s License to show Lang how to spell his name; Lang recalled that Woewiyu also told Lang how to pronounce it. Lang recalled telling Woewiyu there was no need for that assurance because of the confidential informant, and that if the confidential informant recommended Cox and anybody who worked with him, that was fine.
Lang testified that the conversation turned to a discussion of the embargo in place in Liberia, and to a promissory note. After reviewing the recordings and transcripts, Lang recalled that Woewiyu mentioned that there was no embargo on medical supplies, but there was an arms embargo in Liberia. He told the jury that the next part of their discussion was Woewiyu telling Lang about the United Nations, and their involvement in Bosnia with an embargo. Lang recalled saying “that’s a great market over there,” referring to arms in the former Yugoslavia, and Woewiyu responded, “Well there’s medical supplies everywhere.” Lang testified that at that point he realized they would not talk about arms, but would talk about “medical supplies” instead, and that “medical supplies” would mean the arms he was to supply to Woewiyu.
Lang testified that some medical supplies were going to be provided as part of the transaction. He told the jury that in previous meetings with Cox, there was discussion as to a potential port of entry, and putting the arms in a container on a ship. Lang said that Woewiyu asked about using an airfreight container instead, which would be smaller than a shipping container. Lang recalled that at that point, the men immediately began to discuss flying the weapons to Liberia rather than shipping them via boat. Lang said that if he looked at the transcripts, he could better recall, but that he believed Woewiyu indicated the promised Redeye missiles should go in the container first.
An audio recording was then played for the witness which was identified internally at the beginning of the tape as being recorded on May 12, 1993 at JFK. Lang confirmed that this was the recording made via body wire of his meeting with Woewiyu, and said that he recognized himself by the identifying agent number recorded at the beginning of the tape. Lang said that he listened to the tape previously and that it matched the government’s transcript, and that the two together accurately reflect what happened at the meeting. The tape was played for the jury, and occasionally paused for testimony.
Lang explained that part of his cover story was that he had just had a meeting in the airline lounge where he was trying to buy a company that was in the business of trying to sell military camouflage. The witness said that in reality there was no meeting, and Judge Brody asked if this set-up was part of the “sting operation,” and the witness confirmed that it was.
The tape was played for the jury. On the tape, Cox said he “learned something today,” which would allow Lang an “option on security.” Woewiyu told Lang how to pronounce and spell his name. The men then discussed whether the promissory note was negotiable anywhere in the world, and Lang was told it would be, “when Liberia has the money.” The men discussed terms of interest on the note. Woewiyu told Lang that the “other side asked for a ceasefire” and “I said there should be conditions” on the ceasefire, because the peacekeepers were excused from the embargo and were going around creating armies. The men discussed the former Yugoslavia, and that there was a “big market over there.” Woewiyu said, “Yeah, medical supplies, they are all over the place.” On the tape, the men are then heard laughing.
The tape was paused, and Lang said that “medical supplies” meant “arms,” and that is why they laughed. He reiterated that they had a later conversation during this meeting about transporting both medical supplies and arms, with medical supplies to be used as a way of concealing arms.
The tape was resumed, and on it the men discussed how to get arms to Liberia. Lang said, “I like this idea of calling it medical supplies,” and that if the arms were called medical supplies, there will be less paperwork. He stated that if on paper the supplies were shown as going to Liberia, there would be an issue. The men decided they could not designate Liberia as the destination. Cox suggested they “designate a country that’s friendly to us.” “For eyes that don’t need to know,” they would say they were shipping medical supplies for that country. Woewiyu was involved in the discussion and suggested writing the name of another country on the paper. The men discussed whether they could in fact ship the arms via boat, as some potentially friendly countries were landlocked. They discussed whether they could fly the arms, and what the cargo’s weight would be. Lang confirmed to the others that the deal included three rounds per Stinger, along with a battery for each Stinger; and that the Redeyes were not sophisticated but were “throwaways,” that is, not reusable. Woewiyu confirmed that six Stingers with three rounds each would be 18 rounds.
The tape was paused and Lang confirmed that the six Stingers would come with three rounds, for a total of 18 rounds. He confirmed that these were the “6 ST” that was showed to the jury on Lang’s original list, and that Cox wrote on the back of a photograph. He confirmed that when Woewiyu on the tape asked if he “could get more rounds,” Woewiyu meant “more missile rounds.”
The tape was resumed, and Lang said he wanted to make sure that they sent the arms to a country that was not going to raise questions. Cox told Lang he was “talking to a man that’s in Africa as important as our president here, more because he has more power.” Cox told Lang that “in the country they’re in, he has the power.” Lang told Cox and Woewiyu he could get them brand new A-1s or A-2s to send to an acceptable legal country, after which it would be their responsibility to get the arms to Liberia. Cox said this proposal was “another option down the line.” Woewiyu again asked the weight of the expected cargo, and suggested putting the arms in an airfreight container.
The tape was paused, and Lang testified that the men planned to put six Stinger missiles into an airfreight container.
The tape was resumed, and Cox suggested secreting the weapons on the bottom of a container underneath medical supplies. The men discussed who would buy the supplies. Woewiyu confirmed he would destroy the polaroid pictures of the available weapons, and asked about the weapons’ actual market value.
The tape was paused, and Lang confirmed that Woewiyu had indicated he had seen and still retained the pictures, and that he would destroy them. Lang recalled that Woewiyu said they would have to cut open his stomach to find the pictures.
The tape was resumed, and on it the men discussed prices. They stated the cost of a Stinger was $105,000, the cost for a Redeye was $50,000, and the cost for an A-1 (M-16) was $1,000. The A-1s came with a sling and 2 magazines, and were brand new. On the tape Lang clarified that the guns can come with 1,000 rounds apiece, and the cost was $225 per thousand rounds.
The tape was paused, and the witness confirmed that A-1s are M-16s; they are machine guns. Lang recalled that Woewiyu said M-16s were some of “the best guns.” Lang confirmed the cost was $225 for each set of 1,000 rounds of ammunition per rifle. He recalled offering 1,100 M-16s for sale.
The tape was resumed, and Lang said it would cost $1.1 million for the M-16s. The men discussed the purchase of 24 M-60s at $10,000 each. They stated that the whole package was roughly $2 million, including the weapons already discussed and the grenade launchers. Cox asked about the medical supplies, and Lang asked what type they would prefer; Woewiyu suggested swabs and antibiotics. Cox said that Woewiyu should designate a destination country, and “we’ll work out how to get it in.” Lang said he could charter a plane, and then they could discuss a lease. Woewiyu said there was some talk about Ivory Coast as a destination for the arms.
The tape was paused, and Lang confirmed that Woewiyu designated Ivory Coast as the third country through which the arms would be transported. He explained to the jury that a “wet lease” is an airplane lease that comes with crew and fuel; a “dry lease” requires the lessee to provide crew and fuel. He explained that at the time, he called up an informant of his who used to be a pilot, and the informant drew up a lease, designating Ivory Coast as the plane’s destination.
The tape was resumed. Woewiyu said, “Things are looking a little tight for us.” Woewiyu stated that he had discussed the deal “with Charles.” Woewiyu said he would like “you guys to consider” whether they could “think about how you can help us with that,” because otherwise he might have to “take the Redeye and the other thing and whatever we can get on there.” The men continue to discuss potential airplanes, such as a Boeing 727 or Fokker 28, and Lang pointed out that whatever country they decided on had to be able to accommodate the particular aircraft.
The tape was paused. The witness stated that he believed that by “Charles,” Woewiyu was referring to Charles Taylor, the acting president of NPRAG.
The tape was resumed. Woewiyu said he “would like to see if in the next three or four days or so can we get something concrete […] in terms of aircraft and we can see how much we can get on there.” Lang said that before that, he would like the promissory note. Woewiyu responded, “Yeah.” Lang said that if Woewiyu named a destination country, Lang could get him a “fair quote.” Woewiyu responded that Ivory Coast would be the destination.
Lang asked if Woewiyu wanted a lease for 60 days, and Woewiyu said, “Yeah.” The men discussed using a wet or dry lease, and Woewiyu said the lease “would have to be with everything that goes with it,” and that they should fly on a “big” international established route. Lang said, “Everything you do, we will make arrangements,” and pointed out that the men still had to set up a company and get medical supplies. Lang told Woewiyu, “You have to be careful,” and Woewiyu told him, “We’re between a rock and a hard place.”
At that point on the tape, Lang called a third party who was not available, and asked for a message to be relayed for the party to call Lang’s house that night. The men then continued to discuss getting the arms out of the United States. They decide Lang and Cox would speak that night. Lang told Woewiyu that a six-month lease was better than a short one, because otherwise the leasing company might think that Woewiyu would rip off their airplane. “You have to spend money to make money,” Lang said. Woewiyu asked Lang to consider getting the plane as part of the cost on the ground, as otherwise they would be fumbling around trying to collect things on the ground.
The tape was paused, and Lang testified that Woewiyu referred to the “concrete and specific” deal involving arms supposedly already set aside for him. Lang explained that his third-party call was to his confidential informant who had been a pilot.
Lang was then shown a series of documents, and recalled that they were documents he was asked to put together for the deal, including a lease and the full list of arms discussed, along with their prices. He confirmed that these were what he later gave to Cox. The documents were shown to the jury. The first page of the document series was a FedEx receipt, dated May 17, 1993, for a letter mailed to Cox from Lang’s undercover persona. The letter included a note that Lang talked to his pilot friend for a 30-day lease at $177,000 excluding the cost of fuel. The documents also showed an “Agreement of Aircraft Charter,” which Lang testified was the lease he was asked to put together, that he in turn asked his informant to put together.
At that point, the prosecution asked Lang whether Woewiyu was in the court. Lang looked around the courtroom, and identified the defendant as Woewiyu.
Lang then confirmed that he asked his pilot confidential informant to designate Ivory Coast as the arrival country, because Woewiyu asked him to designate it that way. The next page of the document series was a lease reading “Global Enterprises of Miami, Inc.” on the top of the page, and Lang confirmed that was the name on the outside of his undercover storefront. He said that “GFL Trading,” also written on the lease, was another front operation, and the initials stood for for his undercover identity name. On the last page of the document series was the quantity of arms to be provided, including six Stingers manufactured by General Dynamics. Lang indicated there was then a column showing their price of $105,000. He stated that at the bottom of the page, underneath the list of weapons, was written “18,” referring to the three rounds each Stinger was to include. He noted that the page listed a quantity of 10 Redeye missiles, also manufactured by General Dynamics, at $50,000 each.
Judge Brody asked whether defense counsel was interested in calling Special Agent Craig from DHS. Defense counsel answered that he was of interest as the Case Agent on the Woewiyu investigation, but that counsel never had the opportunity to interview him before. The prosecution noted Craig was “available to testify if they want him to testify.”
Defense counsel stated that the other agents from DHS “are more crucial” because they met with Woewiyu and interviewed him. Judge Brody noted counsel made its request to call DHS agents on June 19, 2018. Defense counsel responded that the defense received the statements in the investigations “in a big batch in February,” and did not previously know that agents had taken statements from Woewiyu. Defense counsel explained that it took time to go through the documents to see what was included, and pointed out that the defense team was not finalized until late April. Defense counsel stated that if the government would stipulate to certain documents regarding the statements, “that would be helpful.” Defense counsel noted that these documents would “not normally be admissible.”
The prosecution noted that statements the defense had made today about the expert witness expected to be called were not previously mentioned, and that previously, the defense did not say it wanted the expert to opine on the changing of the Citizenship Application form.
Defense counsel assured the Court that the expert would not be asked to opine on the reasons for the changes to the form, but only to say whether there is now a different form.
Witness 29: Gary Lang, Continued
Lang continued his testimony as to the last page of the document series. He noted that it showed 10 Redeyes. He stated that the “1.1mil” written underneath the 1,100 M-16s referred to the 1,000 rounds of ammunition that would be supplied for each M-16. He said that in total, there would be 1.1 million bullets. He noted that the document showed 15 M-79 grenade launchers and 150 grenades were to be in the deal, as well as 24 M-60 machine guns. He stated that the “20k” written below the machine gun order referred to the belted rounds that feed into a machine gun. Lang confirmed that his previous handwritten note and this typed inventory listed the same weapons and quantities.
Lang was shown another document, and recognized it as another sender’s copy of a FedEx sent by “G. F. Luhr,” Lang’s undercover identity, to Eugene Cox. He noted that the second page of the document laid out a lease agreement for an airplane and the transportation of its cargo from the United States to Ivory Coast, and indicated costs. He said that the third page was a confirmation proposal request for goods, “regarding line items” listed in the previous FedEx. He testified that “line items” meant the arms at issue in the $2.35 million deal.
Lang testified that the first page of the document was a FedEx report dated May 19, 1993. The second page was a letter from Lang in his undercover persona, written to Cox and concerning the transportation of the cargo. The letter required an advance payment of $100,000. Lang testified that at a subsequent meeting, this advance payment was discussed, and Cox and Woewiyu were “frantically” working to come up with this money. The third page of the document was a letter to Cox re-confirming Cox’s request for goods and supplies, with a total sale price of $2.35 million. Lang testified that “goods and supplies” meant “arms.” He told the jury that “GFL Trading Group,” mentioned in the letter, was one of his undercover trading companies. He confirmed that the “negotiable promissory note” mentioned in the letter was the one granting him access to 25% of the profits from a natural resource in Liberia, as payment for the arms.
Lang testified that after sending this FedEx to Cox, he had a subsequent meeting with Cox and Woewiyu at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., on June 18, 1993. As at the JFK meeting, Lang said, he had to wear a body wire to record the conversation. He stated that at first, the discussion centered on peace talks in Liberia. Then, Woewiyu provided Lang a promissory note signed by the NPRAG Minister of Justice, NPRAG Minister of Finance, and NPRAG President Charles Taylor. He told the jury that there was discussion of his concern that the note was a Xerox copy of the original promissory note. He stated that attached to the note were several pages of lists of medical supplies and equipment. He recalled that in his undercover role, he asked how the copy could be authentic. Lang testified that he told Woewiyu that he thought the agreement was for Lang to hold the note, and that the men decided there was a misunderstanding. Lang recalled from reviewing the transcript and audio that he asked if they even still had a deal, and that Woewiyu and Cox said yes.
The witness recognized an audio recording from previously reviewing it, and it was then played for the jury. On the recording, Lang told Cox he was “a little disappointed” because he thought that when they met, he would receive the down-payment money. He told them that he had to pay for the plane to be made ready. The men discussed the funding of the $100,000 down-payment.
The tape was paused, and Lang described how the men discussed the transportation of the arms, and told the jury that it would next hear discussion of the promissory note. He testified that a sound just played on the tape was a briefcase opening, so that at the point the tape was paused, the men had just taken out and were currently reviewing promissory note.
The tape was resumed, and on it Lang asked how he knew the Xerox copy would be honored. He said he wanted to be assured that the deal would be honored, and wanted to make sure the deal was covered.
The tape was paused, and Lang explained that reference was made to a third person, and a concern that someone else knew about the transaction. Lang did not recall the identity of the other person.
The tape was resumed, and Lang asked whether “Charles” knew about the deal. He also referenced “Mr. Taylor,” and asked whether he would honor the deal. Woewiyu said, “Of course. He signed it.” Cox replied, “He knows the whole nine-yard agreement.”
The tape was paused, and Lang testified that there was a signature in the name “Charles Taylor” on the note.
The tape was resumed, and Lang said, “You did your homework.” Woewiyu explained he put the list of medical supplies on his own letterhead because “I witnessed the signing of the document here […] and then had the document notarized.” He explained that “any notary” could “witness my own attestation,” because Woewiyu wanted to make sure the deal was “legitimate.”
The tape was paused, and Lang testified that initially he was concerned, as he was looking at pages of medical supplies. He recalled that Woewiyu told him the amount “might not be exact, but it’s close.” He explained that Woewiyu and Cox had listed quantities of medical supplies on the pages attached to the note, and listed an amount that was worth close to the $2.35 million that Lang would be owed.
The tape was resumed. Lang said he did not want other parties to know about the deal. “Getting back to assurances,” Lang wanted to know that he would not be “left holding the bag” because he only had a promissory note based on delivering medical equipment.
The tape was paused, and Lang explained that during their discussion, Woewiyu had handed Lang a document on his own letterhead. Lang had needed authentication of the deal, he said, and Woewiyu had gone to get the promissory note as a means of authenticating it.
The tape was resumed. Lang said that he thought there was a “green light” for the deal, and that the pilot was now losing money. Lang said that he was not happy because he had to hold the shipment while Woewiyu got the money together. Lang said, “I’m assured by you I’m gonna get paid.” Woewiyu continued his assurances, and mentioned that “within the next week or so” he should have news. Lang asked, “Right now, we still have a deal?” Cox and Woewiyu told him yes. Lang said he was disappointed that it would take longer for Cox and Woewiyu to get money together.
The tape was paused, and Lang confirmed that Woewiyu responded “Yes” when asked whether they still had a deal. Lang said the conversation continued to be about finding money for the transportation of the weapons.
The tape was resumed, and Lang said, “I understood this to be a little bit different.” He explained that he thought they were going to go forward with transportation, but he now thought it might be a problem. He pointed out that “$100,000 is not the final cost, as we discussed on the phone, and I sent you a contract.” Woewiyu responded, “I know that.”
The tape was paused, and Lang testified that Woewiyu was referring to the letter Lang had sent via FedEx, listing the arms. Lang said that the $100,000 was a down-payment to get the arms transportation started. He said some would be paid from the promissory note, and explained that his persona was frustrated because he had spent money holding a plane for the deal, the plane was sitting there doing nothing, and the deal was not being completed when he expected it to be.
The tape was resumed, and Lang told the men “the stuff is yours” but that it would cost $100,000 to hold the plane. The discussion continued, and Woewiyu said “I was not instructed to deliver” the promissory note, “which is definitely based on the delivery.”
The tape was paused, and Lang explained that there was a misunderstanding as to who would hold the note and when. Lang testified that Woewiyu said, “I was not instructed to deliver the note unless in position to take delivery” of the arms. Lang said his question was he thought he himself would be given the note, but Woewiyu said he would give Lang the note after delivery.
The tape was resumed, and Lang confirmed the order and said that if this was a misunderstanding, it was a big one. Lang said he was not happy about it and that what had happened did not make him want to hold the shipment. Lang said that he would not advertise the arms. Woewiyu said that he would honor the deal and that Lang should “hold it for a week.” Lang also said to Woewiyu “I think you should ask Mr. Taylor about the note,” to which Woewiyu said that he would talk to Taylor about the note.
The tape was paused, and Lang testified that at that point on the tape, the men were discussing risk. He recalled Woewiyu saying, “I see what you’re saying,” and acknowledging that Lang was taking a significant risk by hanging onto the arms and not yet offloading them.
The witness was shown a page he recognized as the list of medical supplies intended for Liberia, which was appended to the promissory note. He noted the letterhead was Woewiyu’s personal letterhead, and that it showed a return address in Gbarnga. Lang noted he was referred to in the note as the promissee of $2.35 million, covering the list of arms that was the subject of the deal, but that the promissory note said this was to cover “medical supplies.” Lang recalled asking Woewiyu if Charles Taylor was aware of the realities of the deal.
The note pledged “all resources of the republic of Liberia” to discharge the debt, referring to iron ore, coffee beans, and the other natural resources of Liberia. Lang stated the note was executed on June 1, 1993. He identified the printed text underneath one of the seals affixed to the page as saying “Acting Minister of Finance,” which was the title on the heading on which the note was printed. The witness said he could not clearly make out the “Minister of Justice” stamp. Lang stated that he could make out Charles Taylor’s typed name underneath the seal of the Acting President.
The witness reviewed the next page of the document, and noted that it was labeled with the name NPRAG and a scorpion stamp, and was addressed from Gbarnga City. Lang said this was the list of medical supplies he referred to in his discussion with Woewiyu, when Lang told Woewiyu that he “must have done his homework,” because the value of the medical supplies came close to the amount the arms deal cost.
Lang recalled that he had a subsequent meeting with Woewiyu in November 1993, at which Woewiyu supplied Lang a document that dealt with the authenticity issue. Lang said that because he was concerned about the Xerox copy of the promissory note, a second document was presented for his review in November. He recalled that he was shown a Certificate of Authenticity purportedly from Woewiyu, identifying him as a member of NPRAG and identifying the presence of a notary public at the signing of the promissory note on June 21 by Taylor and others. Lang recalled that during this third meeting, Woewiyu told Lang that he was present when Taylor signed the promissory note, and that Woewiyu travelled back to the United States with the note.
Lang testified that this final meeting with Woewiyu was at the undercover office in Miami on November 29, 1993. He told the jury that the deal was “up in the air,” and recalled from reviewing transcripts and video that Woewiyu had just returned from peace talks in Geneva. Lang said it appeared that the arms deal was not happening, and the men discussed the peace accord. Lang recalled being told that everyone was relying on Woewiyu, as the Minister of Defense, to get the deal accomplished. Lang recalled that, based on the promissory note that Lang had signed, Woewiyu said that Lang would be in a “very good position” to get involved in the “aviation business” from the ground floor up in Liberia. Specifically, the men discussed M-16s, and Woewiyu described to Lang that he thought he could market those types of arms in other countries based on his position as Minister of Defense.
Video and audio existed of Lang’s third meeting with Woewiyu, which were then played for the jury and interspersed with testimony. On the video, the men discussed Woewiyu giving Lang the document “authenticating” the deal.
The tape was paused, and Lang testified that at this point in the deal, they were reviewing the document saying Woewiyu was present during the signing of the promissory note.
On the video, Woewiyu confirmed that he was privy to the signing of the note, and said that they were “genuine in terms of the people and the government.” He then told Lang, “I might be able to sell that stuff, there’s no question in my mind about it.” Woewiyu said that he “would be the ideal person to do that because of [his] position.” Woewiyu also said that the money Lang received might be less than originally promised. “Because of our problems right now I just don’t have that.”
The video was paused, and Lang confirmed that Woewiyu meant he might be able to sell the arms that Lang had procured for NPFL.
The video was resumed, and Woewiyu stated that “everybody wants” the weapons “for the birds.”
The video was paused, and Lang testified that Woewiyu continued the discussion, saying he might be able to market those arms based on his position as Minister of Defense. The witness took “the birds” to mean aircraft, and said that Woewiyu meant the Stingers could counter them.
Lang told the jury that Woewiyu, Cox, and another agent operating undercover, Peter Ostrovsky, then went to the warehouse. He said the other agent opened a vehicle to display M-16s. Video of this warehouse visit was shown to the jury, but the video and audio were not very clear. Lang specifically recalled handing an M-16 to Woewiyu to examine. The witness identified the relative placements of himself, Ostrovsky, Cox, and Woewiyu on the screen. He recalled Cox’s distinctive limp, and that Ostrovsky had a distinctive voice, and said that he could recognize them in this way. On the video, the men passed around the weapon, which both Woewiyu and then Cox held.
Lang testified that, based on his meetings with Cox and Woewiyu, listening to them speak and watching them interact, “they were more than associates,” they were “close friends.” Lang recalled Cox referring to Woewiyu as “his boss.”
On cross-examination, Lang confirmed that his first two meetings were with Cox alone, not the defendant. He recalled that in their second meeting, Cox said “we have a done deal” himself, and did not get on the phone or talk to anyone to confirm the deal’s status before he made the statement. Lang confirmed that the undercover investigation at issue did not lead to any direct prosecution, although he believed Cox pled guilty to violations of the Arms Export Control Act. Lang confirmed that Woewiyu was not prosecuted for arms trafficking.
Witness 30: Peter Ostrovsky
The government’s next witness, Peter Ostrovsky, testified that he started his career in federal law enforcement with the U.S. Customs Service in 1987, and that he worked there “in several investigative areas.” He told the jury that in 1997, he transferred to an office in the Pacific Northwest, where he worked for another 11 years. The witness stated that he then transferred to London, England for three years to work as the Deputy Attaché at the U.S. Embassy there on behalf of the Department of Homeland Security. He said that he then served seven more years as the Head of Office, or “Assistant Special Agent in Charge,” in the same Pacific Northwest office. He retired in March of this year. He confirmed that the U.S. Customs Service was not always part of DHS.
Ostrovsky testified that he was a Special Agent with Customs for six years before joining the long-term undercover investigation in Miami, in which he was a secondary undercover agent. He recalled that he participated in the meeting with Woewiyu on November 29, 1993, and stated that he had reviewed videotape. Ostrovsky said the videotape he reviewed covered the warehouse portion of the undercover business, where he was working as a “warehouse man.” The jury was shown the video, and the witness identified himself, Special Agent Lang, Woewiyu, and Cox. The video showed the men gathered around the trunk of a car and peering into it, as well as looking at weapons.
Ostrovsky recalled that as the weapon was handed between Woewiyu and Cox, they discussed how much the weapon weighed. Ostrovsky explained that the weapon was wrapped in plastic because that was how the government had supplied it for the operation.
There was no cross-examination of this witness.
Witness 31: William Parks
The government’s next witness, William Parks, identified himself to the jury as a private investigator in Florida. He testified that prior to that, he was in the submarine service of the military for four years, followed by service at the Department of the Interior, and Naval Intelligence. He was then a Special Agent with the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Texas, then a Special Agent with the Department of Commerce in New Jersey, and then a Special Agent with the U.S. Customs Service. He told the jury that he began his Customs service in Miami in approximately 1988, and stayed in that position for approximately 10 years, then served at the training academy as an instructor, then served in Tampa, and then retired in 2007.
Parks stated that in his current employment, he specializes in criminal defense, and is hired by private attorneys on behalf of their clients. Parks testified to his military service in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kosovo. He stated that he was deployed to Vietnam, and his other postings were as a mentor to government officials and Foreign Service Officers.
Parks remembered the January 29, 1992 meeting he attended along with Lang, Eugene Cox, and a confidential informant. He confirmed that he recalled it because of reviewing recordings and transcripts. He said that without the recordings and transcripts, he would have some recollection of the case, but would not know specifics. Parks recalled Cox unfurling a photograph at the meeting of “his friend Tom,” and said that to his best recollection, the photograph also showed President Charles Taylor.
Parks recalled subsequently meeting the “friend named Tom” in November 1993 at the undercover storefront location. He stated that his role was limited to bringing Cox and Woewiyu down from the Fort Lauderdale Airport to the Miami office. He said that his role in this investigation was always a supportive role to Lang, and Parks would provide whatever Lang or the Case Agent needed in terms of transportation or participation in meetings. His persona during this investigation, the witness recalled, was as Lang’s partner in business as a broker and exporter. He recalled that his undercover name was Bill Clark.
Parks confirmed that he reviewed the recording of the drive from the Fort Lauderdale Airport to Miami. He testified that he was wearing “something close to a Panasonic 36” small tape recorder, and confirmed that it was hidden on his person. The witness was shown an example of such a recorder, and stated that it looked familiar.
Parks specifically recalled Cox smoking a cigarette on the drive, and joking with him about the health issues involved. He characterized the drive as “cordial,” and said that Woewiyu eventually entered the conversation. He recalled Woewiyu introduced himself as the Minister of Defense, and that he talked about coming to the United States on a “visa of some sort.” The witness believed that Woewiyu said he wanted to be a pilot and go to Florida.
Parks said that “altitudinal complex” came up in the conversation, which he had not heard of previously. He said Woewiyu explained that a friend or relative had it, had been a pilot, and then had died. Parks recalled that after the end of Woewiyu’s story, Woewiyu said he told Immigration that he had wanted to be a pilot. He then told Parks that he did not really want to be a pilot. The witness’s impression was that Woewiyu told Immigration one thing, but that “he really meant something else.” Parks reiterated that he would not characterize the situation as Woewiyu “‘changing his mind’ so much as ‘he told them one thing but really intended something else.’” Parks recalled that Woewiyu specifically said he did not have an altitudinal complex.
The audio recording of the journey was played for jury. It began with Parks picking up Cox and Woewiyu at the airport. Woewiyu asked, “Did I ever tell you the story with the Immigration?” When Parks said “No,” Woewiyu told him that in 1969, Woewiyu came to the U.S. to attend Burnside Aviation school in Miami, because he wanted to do commercial flying. Woewiyu said that he decided to go into science instead, and he went to Immigration to change his papers, where the interviewer was searching for “bad intent” and might say that Woewiyu was looking for a way to stay in the U.S. “So I wrote altitudinal complex, I suffer from [it] upon arrival,” Woewiyu told Parks. When the Immigration Officer asked why Woewiyu did not know about the complex before leaving Liberia, Woewiyu answered that it was because “the tallest building in Liberia is three stories high.” Woewiyu told Parks, “I wasn’t suffering from no altitudinal complex, I just didn’t want to go to Florida.”
The witness confirmed that this was the story he recalled Woewiyu telling about going to Florida to be a pilot.
There was no cross-examination of this witness.
Defense Objection to Prosecution’s Proposed Evidence
Defense counsel objected to two documents the prosecution sought to admit through its next witness. Specifically, the defense objected to portions of a Request for Investigation dated February 19, 2008 and sent from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) Field Office in Philadelphia to the ICE Office in Vermont.
The prosecution responded that the Request for Investigation came from Woewiyu’s “Alien File” (“A-File”), was not hearsay and was not being offered for the truth of the matter asserted. The prosecution said the request is one reason the case took so long to go through the citizenship decision process. The prosecution stated that the relevance of the document went directly to the defense assertion that “everybody already knew everything.” The prosecution stated that the next prosecution witness would testify that she saw the Request for Investigation, but did not make those decisions, and did not assume it was true. The prosecution indicated the witness would say she reviewed the request when going into Woewiyu’s citizenship interview itself.
The prosecution continued that the next government witness’s response to the Request spoke directly to the defense assertion in the opening statement that Woewiyu “was an open book” that “never tried to hide anything.” The prosecution argued that the Request was a document the witness reviewed, and she would testify that it gave her very limited information that she would not take into account when making her determination. The prosecution offered to exclude the entire document, rather than exclude portions of it.
The defense objected to portions of the document as hearsay.
The Judge said that this was not a hearsay issue, and then asked stated that the defense had to choose between all of the document being admitted into evidence, or all of the document being excluded. She stated that in her understanding, the government’s position was that Woewiyu was not well-known to the government as a whole, so the document could either be wholly excluded or not.
The defense asked for the document to be excluded as a whole, and Judge Brody granted the motion.
The defense also asked to exclude a document from the “Liberian Human Rights Campaign” website, dated October 1998, that had been included in Woewiyu’s A-File. Defense counsel directed the Court to the final pages of the document, which listed its sources as “various Liberian international news reporting.” Defense counsel stated that there was no objection to prosecution witnesses discussing open source files, but that this particular file had no indicia of reliability.
The prosecution counsel stated there was no objection to excluding the document, and that it was just a part of Woewiyu’s A-File.
Judge Brody remarked, “I just listen to the lawyers.” She ruled that the “Liberian Human Rights Campaign” was excluded from the A-File exhibits admitted through the prosecution’s next witness, along with the Request for Investigation.
Witness 32: Marsilina “Marsha” Eikerenkoetter
The final witness of the afternoon, Marsha Eikerenkoetter, testified that she was hired by the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) in 1981, and was subsequently hired by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (“INS”) in 1988. She began in a clerical role with the SSA, then was promoted to serving as an Information Officer in the Debt Management Branch, providing information on SSA benefits. She said she was there for roughly six years. During that time, Eikerenkoetter joined the military as an Air Force Reservist, and she remained in that capacity until 2008 when she retired.
Eikerenkoetter testified that she was hired as an Information Officer by the INS in 1988. She told the jury that she provided information on immigration benefits to any individuals who came into the office. In 1992, she was promoted to the position of Immigration Examiner at INS. She described the position as interviewing applicants for their immigration petitions, like permanent residency or citizenship. She stated that the position’s title changed from Immigration Examiner to District Adjudications Officer, and presently is known as an Immigration Services Officer. She confirmed that all three positions are in reality the same job with the same duties. She confirmed that the INS is now USCIS.
Eikerenkoetter told jury that she volunteered to join the Refugee Branch, and was sent to Kenya, Ethiopia, and Zambia to conduct asylum interviews. She said these trips were known as “circuit rides,” and lasted about 45 days each. She occasionally extended these tours. Eikerenkoetter testified that her last tours were in Iraq in 2014 and 2016, and that the longest she spent on a circuit ride was her three-month trip in 2016. She stated that in the 1990s, she went to Guantanamo Bay on a refugee detail, but her delegation was sent home.
Eikerenkoetter described interviewing refugees and taking statements about the harms they suffered or if they were persecuted in their country of origin. She testified that she took their testimony on why they feared persecution as a result of one of the five protected grounds that forms the basis for an asylum applications. Eikerenkoetter stated that when she found people who had been persecuted as a result of one of the five grounds, she recommended an approval of their refugee status. She explained that if their security checks came back clear, they would eventually come to the U.S. as refugees.
Eikerenkoetter testified that she was with USCIS in 2009, when her title was Immigration Services Officer. She stated that recommendations as to whether someone should become a naturalized citizen are based on whether the applicant meets the qualifications. She stated there is a process she follows. She testified that USCIS makes the ultimate determination about whether someone receives citizenship, not the Department of State, DHS, or Federal Bureau of Investigation. The witness did not recall what year INS changed its name to USCIS, but recalled that it was under the latter heading in 2009.
Eikerenkoetter described the protocol and procedures she customarily and routinely followed during the naturalization process at USCIS. She said that her office is physically located in Philadelphia, in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and that all the interviews she performed during a year-long period in 2009 were conducted there. She described how interviews were generally prescheduled about two months in advance. Officers would have “scheduled bundles,” consisting of 12-14 cases assigned by a supervisor for a given day. Officers thus had to perform 12-14 interviews every day.
The witness testified that if an officer ran out of time, there were two “duty officers” who could pick up the leftover cases of an agent who fell behind. Eikerenkoetter testified there was not a penalty if an officer fell behind. She stated that the scheduled time for an interview was maybe 20-30 minutes, or “back then could have been 15 minutes,” but that nothing happened if an interview ran over time. Cases would be completed that day, “maybe not by me, but by another officer.”
Eikerenkoetter testified that she never told anyone that she only had a certain amount of time to listen to them. She told the jury that people coming in were already under enough pressure, and were nervous, so her practice was to try to get them to relax. She explained that if she told them that they had only a certain amount of time, it would not help them relax.
Eikerenkoetter explained that a “specially scheduled case” was when, on occasion, a supervisor assigned a special case that would be the only case an officer had for that day. She said this could occur for various reasons, including having have been pending for a long time. She said she could not speak to all the reasons for such a designation, and a supervisor could answer better. She said a supervisor would tell an officer about the special case by email. Eikerenkoetter testified that there was no time limit for these cases, and reiterated that were the only one scheduled for the entire day. She testified that she did not treat these cases differently from other cases, and did not look at these applicants more suspiciously. She stated that she followed the same protocols with specialty scheduled cases as she would otherwise.
Eikerenkoetter told the jury that when she had a specially scheduled case, she followed the same routine of going over an application and administering the citizenship exam as she did with other cases. She explained that she received an applicant’s A-File, would review it, would make sure all checks were done, and would then set up the case for an interview.
Eikerenkoetter described how the first thing she did during an interview was to call the applicant in, introduce herself, and place the applicant under oath. She said that she administered the oath by saying, “Raise your right hand. Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?”
Eikerenkoetter described that she then administered two tests. She would ask the applicant to sit, and would then generally administer the citizenship exam first to get it out of the way, “because they’re generally really nervous about that.” She explained that the citizenship exam is about the history and government of the United States, and officers ask 10 questions randomly selected from 100 possible questions. She said that a passing score was at least seven correct answers to the 10 questions asked. Second, she gave an English proficiency test. An applicant had to read a sentence in English and write a sentence correctly in English. Eikerenkoetter testified that she was not looking for reasons not to naturalize someone, and the application process was not weighted against them.
Eikerenkoetter testified that her next step was to go over the N-400 Application for Naturalization with the applicant, and make any necessary changes. She told the jury that she used a red pen to check off the questions that she asked specifically. She confirmed that this process was done after the applicant swore an oath. She testified that based on her experience, she expected applicants to tell the truth. She confirmed that applicants were sworn in before she asked them to sit down.
Eikerenkoetter testified that the beginning of the Form N-400 is basically biographical information, and that she would go through all the questions with the applicant. She explained that if the applicant gave a different answer and there was a change, she would put the corrected information and mark it by number. She testified that making changes was not held against applicants, but she did expect them to be honest with the Form-400. Eikerenkoetter stated that she assured herself that applicants understood questions by asking if they did. If they said they did not, she would rephrase the question. If they said they did, the interview would move on. She explained that she read questions verbatim to applicants unless they asked for a restatement.
Eikerenkoetter said that, while she was not sure what questions were next on the form, she knew it included eligibility and moral character questions. She testified that if someone lied under oath, from her vantage point they would not have met the moral character requirement. She said their application could be denied because of the lack of good moral character based on lying under oath.
The witness testified that she became familiar with the individual named Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu, because she interviewed him for naturalization. She recognized an email from her supervisor at the time, instructing clerical staff to schedule a Naturalization Interview for her to conduct at 10 a.m. on January 30, 2009. She said the Woewiyu case was thus the only case she would have been scheduled for on that day. She noted that the email was sent on December 3, 2008, and that it instructed the clerk to forward the interviewee’s file to Marsha. The witness confirmed that email meant that she had only one interview scheduled for the day, and could take as much time as she needed with the interview; there was no time limit.
Eikerenkoetter testified that her interview with Woewiyu took place. She stated that at no time did she make representations to the applicant or his counsel that they only had limited time. She stated that she did not tell them that they only had 15 minutes for the interview.
Eikerenkoetter testified that she reviewed Woewiyu’s A-File prior to his interview. She was shown documents from the A-File, and identified “Form I-20A,” a student form for someone coming over to study as a student on an F-1 visa. The witness said the form indicated it was for “Jucontee Thomas Smith,” who later went back to his name “Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu.” The witness stated that F-1 visas are supposed to go to students, and that the form indicated it was for Burnside Aviation School in Opa Locka, Florida.
Eikerenkoetter was shown a document she identified as a subsequent form in reply to the I-20A, that would be sent back to Immigration by the Foreign Student Advisor at a school, informing Immigration of whether the student came to school. The form shown to Eikerenkoetter said that Woewiyu had not registered for class at the school started in 1969.
The prosecution then asked the witness about the immigration interview. Eikerenkoetter recalled that Woewiyu had his attorney with him. She testified that the first thing she did was to place him under oath, and that she expected him to tell the truth.
The witness was shown the N-400 from Woewiyu’s interview, and testified that with Woewiyu and his immigration counsel, she went through the form question by question. She knew they went through all the questions, because she placed red check marks beside the questions asked, including where the form listed “Jucontee Thomas Smith” under “other names used.” Eikerenkoetter testified that when she circled a question on the form, that also meant she had asked it. She stated that some of that information comes from a permanent record. Eikerenkoetter described the requirement that under the particular section of law, a naturalization applicant had to have been be a Legal Permanent Resident for at least five years before being eligible to file the applicationfor citizenship. She testified that this meant that as an LPR since 1972, one would be eligible to apply for citizenship from 1977 onwards.
Eikerenkoetter reviewed a page of the N-400 that showed Woewiyu certified his answers were true under penalty of perjury, and that they were prepared with the help of an attorney. The application was certified on January 23, 2006. That attorney also certified that the information the applicant gave to the attorney was true and correct. Applicant certified that all information and evidence presented was true and correct. Finally, the applicant authorized the release of information to INS.
The witness testified about Woewiyu’s responses to the biographical information questions with which the N-400 began. She noted that Woewiyu became a permanent resident on January 13, 1972. She confirmed that all the red check marks on the page meant she had asked the questions next to the check. She said there was also red text written on the page, and she pointed out where she crossed out Woewiyu’s old phone number and wrote in his new phone number. She confirmed that the checkmarks throughout the form were questions that she had gone over with the applicant.
Eikerenkoetter looked at later pages of the document. She noted that p.6 showed a change, from 7 children to 8 children. She confirmed that she had asked all questions “verbatim.”
The witness confirmed that she read to Woewiyu the question about his membership in an association. She testified that in her experience, “ever” meant “at any time.” When the applicant filled out the application, he said that no, he was not a member of a group. In his interview, he answered yes, and changed his substantive answer. The witness indicated to the jury her red pen on the document, where she had written the name of the organization Woewiyu belonged to, the “Union of Liberian Associations in the United States.” She recalled that she then asked what type of organization it was, and whether he was a member of any other organization. He said no. She testified that she did not recall him fumbling in a briefcase at that time, or at any other time.
Eikerenkoetter testified that she did not tell Woewiyu that he only had 15 minutes left; she reiterated that he “had all the time he needed. The witness stated that she wrote down Woewiyu’s changed association answer – adding the Union of Liberian Associations in the United States – because Woewiyu said so. She testified that if he had said to add the NPFL, she would have written it. If he had said to add the NPFL-CRC, she would have written it.
Eikerenkoetter testified that Woewiyu did not ask about the meaning of the “communist party” or “any other totalitarian party” while she was reading him questions verbatim from the N-400. She stated that she asked him if he was ever a member of a terrorist organization, and that he answered no. She testified that Woewiyu did not ask for a definition of any of those terms.
Eikerenkoetter confirmed that she asked verbatim the question about whether Woewiyu ever sought to overthrow a government. She testified that he answered no, and she said that he never asked what “government meant,” nor “overthrow,” nor “force” nor “violence,” nor “directly” nor “indirectly,” but simply because the applicant said “no” under oath.
Eikerenkoetter confirmed that she asked verbatim, while Woewiyu was under oath, the question about whether he ever persecuted anyone. She testified that he answered, “No.” She said that he did not ask what “ever” meant, nor “persecuted,” nor “directly or indirectly.”
Eikerenkoetter’s testimony will continue tomorrow.
The defense presented proposed stipulations as to documents to be admitted in lieu of calling two federal agents to testify for the defense. The Court and counsel will review the proposal tonight.