Trial Day 11: The Prosecution Rests
Witness 32: Marsilina “Marsha” Eikerenkoetter, Continued
Marsha Eikerenkoetter continued her testimony on Wednesday morning. She testified that there was no information in defendant Thomas Woewiyu’s A-File from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”), or the Department of State (“State”). She stated that she also did not receive information from them in her investigation of the A-File.
The witness was again shown Woewiyu’s Form N-400, the Application for Naturalization form, and was asked about the N-400’s Question 11: “Have you ever persecuted (either directly or indirectly) any person because of race, religion, national origin, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion?” Eikerenkoetter testified that she read this question to Woewiyu verbatim. She knew she did because on the N-400, she checked the question off in red pen. She testified that, as indicated on the Form, Woewiyu answered “No.” She told the jury that he did not ask for Eikerenkoetter to clarify “persecution,” “directly or indirectly,” or any other part of the question. The witness confirmed that she did not ask Woewiyu Question 12 on Form N-400, whether he ever worked with the Nazi government during World War II.
The witness continued to examine the Form, and stated that Woewiyu answered “No” to a succession of questions.
Eikerenkoetter reviewed the questions under the “Good Moral Character” heading on the Form. She testified that in addition to these questions, a determination of an applicant’s lack of good moral character could be made if an applicant does not tell the truth under oath. She confirmed that lying under oath is by itself enough to trigger a denial of the application. The witness examined the moral character questions, including one directing the applicant to answer in the affirmative about past arrests “even if the records are sealed or otherwise cleared.” She testified that she asked Woewiyu verbatim if he ever committed a crime, and that he answered “No.” She told the jury that Woewiyu never said anything to her about seeking to purchase arms.
The next question on the Form N-400 dealt with whether the applicant was ever detained by law enforcement for any reason. Eikerenkoetter testified that Woewiyu answered “Yes,” and a checkmark could be seen in the corresponding box on the Form. Eikerenkoetter testified that he also answered “Yes” to the question of whether he was charged with committing a crime or offense, but “No” to whether he was convicted or entered an alternative adjudication program. She testified, in accordance with the N-400 displayed to the jury, that Woewiyu answered “No” to whether he ever received a suspended sentence or was placed on parole, or was imprisoned. Underneath these questions was a box in which the witness could explain any “Yes” answer. Eikerenkoetter confirmed that Woewiyu stated on his application that he was charged with receiving stolen property, was arrested in January 1982, and pled guilty to a misdemeanor.
Eikerenkoetter testified that she wrote in red pen the oral changes that Woewiyu made to his application, and that this could be seen on the application as shown to the jury. She had indicated of the Form changes she made, based on answers Woewiyu gave about his past criminal record, by numbering them 7-10. She explained that during his interview, Woewiyu told her he had been charged with suspicion of being associated with organized crime, but this charge was dismissed. The witness noted this information on the Form. Eikerenkoetter testified that this charge, and the information related to it, were the only changes Woewiyu made to his answers to questions on this portion of the application.
Eikerenkoetter testified that Woewiyu submitted attachments to his N-400, and said that she would be familiar with them if shown them. She was then shown the attachments and confirmed that she had seen them before. These attachments included pages on which Eikerenkoetter had written in red. Eikerenkoetter examined a handwritten page submitted by Woewiyu with his Form N-400 application, in which he wrote that the page was an expansion of an answer to a question in the Good Moral Character section of the application. He wrote, “When I first came to the U.S., I worked for a parking company” which was under a federal indictment. He said that as an employee of the parking company, he was detained by police and taken to the Queens County Courthouse, but was never arrested. Woewiyu included a letter dated January 9, 2005, indicating that the relevant New York law enforcement office was unable to find a record of this arrest, which allegedly occurred in 1970, as the arrest was over 25 years old. Eikerenkoetter confirmed that she received this information from Woewiyu as part of his Form N-400 Application for Naturalization.
Eikerenkoetter confirmed that while reviewing the Good Moral Character section of Form N-400 with Woewiyu, he did not tell her anything about his arrest for the falsification of business records in 1970. He did not disclose anything about it on his application. Eikerenkoetter confirmed that in relation to the questions on the N-400, “ever” meant “at any time.”
Eikerenkoetter continued to examine Woewiyu’s answers to Form N-400, and she testified that she asked him each question orally and then checked them off. She confirmed that the Form instructed the applicant to “attach any additional information that helps explain” an applicant’s answer. Eikerenkoetter testified that Woewiyu answered “No” to whether he was a habitual drunk, engaged in prostitution, smuggled illegal drugs, had been simultaneously married to more than one person, helped anyone enter the United States illegally, or was involved with illegal gambling. The witness confirmed that she did not ask whether Woewiyu failed to support his dependents or failed to pay alimony; there was no red checkmark beside that question on the Form.
Eikerenkoetter testified that there was a question on Form N-400 as to whether the applicant ever gave false information to a U.S. government official while applying for immigration benefits, or to prevent deportation. She told the jury that Woewiyu told her nothing about his application for flight school when he first arrived in the United States. She said he also answered “No” to whether he was ever removed or deported.
Eikerenkoetter testified that Woewiyu checked “Yes” under a “selective service” heading. She said that he included documents about registering for selective service among his attachments. Eikerenkoetter testified that an applicant for naturalization may support an application with any additional information or documentation that helps to explain his answers.
Eikerenkoetter testified that the oath sworn by the applicant requires the applicant to answer whether he will support the constitution, and whether the applicants understands and is willing to take an oath of allegiance to the United States. Eikerenkoetter testified that Form N-400 also asked whether, if the law required, the applicant would be willing to bear arms for the United States, perform non-combatant services, or perform work of national importance under a civilian government. Eikerenkoetter testified that Woewiyu answered “Yes” to all of these questions.
The witness re-examined Woewiyu’s signature on his application. She agreed that the signature denoted the applicant attesting that everything in the application was true and correct, including the changes he made orally. Eikerenkoetter testified that, as written on the application and shown to the jury, the applicant, by signing the application “under penalty of perjury,” certified that the contents, “subscribed by me,” including the changes Eikerenkoetter numbered 1-10, “are true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief.” Eikerenkoetter testified that Woewiyu signed and swore this before Eikerenkoetter on January 30, 2009. She confirmed that the changes numbered 1-10 were corrections Woewiyu made to his application, and that a reference to pages 1-20 indicated Woewiyu’s attachments to the N-400. She told the jury that the signature on the left side of the page was Woewiyu’s, and the signature on the right side of the page was her own. She testified that when Woewiyu’s signature was executed, it indicated to Eikerenkoetter that “everything in the application and what he told me during the interview was true and correct” “under penalty of perjury.”
Eikerenkoetter testified that she did not then determine whether to recommend that Woewiyu receive naturalization. She told the jury that additional evidence was needed, and she asked for additional evidence because it formed part of the eligibility determination. She testified that an applicant was under oath even when adding new information to the application. Eikerenkoetter explained that a request for additional information did not change the strictures of the perjury oath; “he still has to tell the truth.” She stated that it was her custom and practice to tell an applicant what the additional requests for evidence would be, after they had gone through all the questions on Form N-400. She stated that when an applicant comes in for an interview, the applicant does not know if Eikerenkoetter will ask for additional information; she pointed out that at that time, “I don’t know that I’m going to ask for additional evidence.”
Eikerenkoetter was shown a document she identified as a “Continuance,” which was a request for additional evidence. She stated if she told someone that she would request additional evidence from them, she would also tell them the topic of the request for evidence.
Eikerenkoetter was then shown a document on U.S. Customs and Immigration Service (“USCIS”) letterhead called a Form N-14 Request for Evidence, which listed additional information that was requested from Woewiyu, and indicated that the information should be sent to a USCIS address in Philadelphia. She stated that the Request for Evidence was sent to Woewiyu care of Raymond Basso, Woewiyu’s attorney, and that it indicated that an examination of Woewiyu’s N-400 showed a need for additional information.
Eikerenkoetter confirmed that this Request indicated that Woewiyu needed to submit additional evidence. She noted that the document stated that “failure to do so may result in denial” of his naturalization application, but that sending additional information did not guarantee the granting of citizenship. In the request, Eikerenkoetter explained that “if you choose to submit only some or none of the requested information, your application will be adjudicated on its merits.” Eikerenkoetter confirmed that if Woewiyu did not respond or did not send the requested information, the application could be denied.
A page attached to the Request was shown to the witness. It was headed “Requested Information, Documents, and/or Forms.” Under the subheading “Taxes,” the document requested that Woewiyu provide his IRS transcripts from 2002-2007. Eikerenkoetter testified that she asked for his tax information because Woewiyu said during the interview that he was self-employed. She explained that an examination of whether an applicant has paid his taxes, or, if taxes are owed, that an agreement to pay those taxes is on file, is part of the Good Moral Character determination.
Under the subheading “In Addition,” Eikerenkoetter’s Request sought documentation to prove that Woewiyu’s first marriage had been legally terminated via a divorce decree. Eikerenkoetter testified that she sought that information because an applicant’s civil status goes on the N-400, and is entered into records if an applicant becomes a citizen, which is why she needed to see a divorce decree. Eikerenkoetter confirmed that this was standard protocol. She explained that her decision as to what further information to seek was not triggered by information in Woewiyu’s A-File, except that the File stated he was self-employed, and hence, she requested information to show that Woewiyu had paid taxes he owed. She told the jury that Woewiyu’s divorce decree was in fact not in his A-File, which is why she asked for that information.
Eikerenkoetter testified that after she requested additional information via a Form N-14, an applicant’s A-File would go to a holding shelf waiting for the additional evidence to come in. If the additional evidence came in, she expected the A-File to come back to her. In Woewiyu’s case, Eikerenkoetter testified that when she sent him Form N-14, she had not decided whether or not she would recommend that his naturalization application be granted. She testified that she never received a response to her Form N-14. She told the jury that she never saw the file again after she sent the Form N-14, and did not know what happened to it. She testified that had she received a response, the file would have come back to her, and she would have made a determination based on the information she received.
Eikerenkoetter confirmed that she testified yesterday that Woewiyu’s was a “specially scheduled interview,” and reiterated that meant she had all day to interview him. She testified that she wrote a memorandum to file about the interview, and identified it for the jury when shown. Eikerenkoetter testified that she wrote the memorandum because she was specially assigned to the case by her supervisor, and that it was accurate as to the events at the time, because she wrote it shortly after the interview. The interview was conducted on January 30, 2009, and the memorandum was dated February 2, 2009.
The witness testified that the person she named in her memorandum as “Mr. Thomas” was in fact the defendant, Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu. She wrote in her memorandum that he said he was never a member of a group, but after she repeated the question a few times, he said he was a member of the Union of Liberian Associations in the United States, which he called “a U.S.-based organization that helps Liberians.” Eikerenkoetter testified that when she said she “repeated it a couple of times,” it was because she wanted to make sure the defendant understood the question. She testified that he gave her the information about the organization orally. The witness testified that the memorandum correctly reflects that Woewiyu told her he did not belong to any other groups.
Eikerenkoetter testified that she perceived Woewiyu to understand all of the application’s questions. She asked if he was ever a member of the Communist Party or of a terrorist group and he answered “No.” She stated that he did not ask for a definition of any of those terms.
The memorandum reported that Eikerenkoetter then asked if Woewiyu ever advocated the overthrow of any government, whether directly or indirectly. She testified that she asked the question verbatim, and that he did not answer anything about the country of Liberia. The memorandum reported that when Eikerenkoetter asked the question, “he chuckled a little.” Eikerenkoetter testified that she reported his reaction because that was a “pretty serious question for someone to be chuckling at.”
The memorandum reported that Woewiyu indicated on his Form-400 that he had two prior arrests, in 1970 and 1982. The witness stated that Woewiyu did not mention his arrest for the falsification of business records. The memorandum then stated Eikerenkoetter asked whether Woewiyu had committed any other illegal activity. Eikerenkoetter testified that he answered “No.” Eikerenkoetter confirmed that Woewiyu never mentioned his alleged arms trafficking to her.
The memorandum reported that Woewiyu was the Minister of Labor in Liberia between 1994 and 2000. It stated that between 2000 and 2003, he was a Senator and President Pro Tempore of the Liberian Senate, while maintaining a residence in the United States. The memorandum stated that Woewiyu traveled to Liberia to serve during the Senate cycle every three months, but that he never stayed outside the United States for more than three months at a time. According to Eikerenkoetter’s memorandum, Woewiyu’s last trip outside the U.S. was in 2006. It noted that Woewiyu had been self-employed in real estate management since 1985. At the conclusion of the memorandum, Eikerenkoetter wrote that she asked if Woewiyu understood all the questions he was asked, and he indicated that he did. She testified to the same fact.
The memorandum stated that Eikerenkoetter asked Woewiyu for his IRS transcripts of the last five years, and for documentation as to the legal termination of his marriage. Eikerenkoetter testified that she did not ask for evidence about his groups or associations, because Woewiyu had indicated there was only one. She said there was no need to ask about any others, because she assumed he was telling the truth. She told the jury that she did not ask him for additional evidence about overthrowing a government, “because under oath he told me he had not.” She further stated that she did not submit a request for evidence about any persecution Woewiyu may have committed, “because he told me he had not.”
The witness was shown Woewiyu’s Adjudication Processing Worksheet, and confirmed that she had seen it before. She then testified that Woewiyu’s application for citizenship was denied, and that she had nothing to do with that determination.
On cross-examination, Eikerenkoetter was asked about the protocols she followed. She testified that the USCIS Policy Manual is the primary source of the policies guiding the job Eikerenkoetter has done for over 20 years.
She stated that before an interview she generally conducted a thorough review of an applicant’s Form-400 and A-File. She explained that an A-File begins when someone comes into the U.S., and that the earliest documents are at the back of the file; as more documents are collected, they are piled on top. She testified that when she received Woewiyu’s A-File in December 2008, it covered the time period beginning with his entry into the United States in 1969, up through the date she received it, which was about six weeks or so before the interview.
Eikerenkoetter confirmed that she reviewed Woewiyu’s A-File in advance of his interview in January 2009, and that this was part of her job’s protocol. She stated that part of reviewing an A-File is assessing whether there are unanswered questions, and thinking about what questions she would want to ask. She stated that other preparation for an interview includes checking law enforcement databases, correspondence from other agencies, and reports from other agencies.
Eikerenkoetter confirmed that every applicant receives an interview. She testified that at the initial interview, an Immigration Officer asks a candidate to provide a green card, Social Security card, and Driver’s License. An Officer then explains and administers the naturalization test, and goes through the application and makes corrections as indicated by the candidate. She confirmed the questions asked of an applicant during the interview cover the full application. She confirmed that Officers have a right to present any documentary evidence they want, or to conduct cross-examination. She stated that an Officer may grant citizenship immediately, deny it immediately (which she said happened “rarely”), or request a continuance. An applicant can appeal the denial of his or her application.
If an Officer requests a continuance, he or she may request to re-schedule a future interview, or can make a request for additional evidence in writing. Either way, additional information must be provided within 30 days, and any additional documentation must become part of the record. Eikerenkoetter stated that an applicant still must tell the truth during this ongoing process. She described any future requests for information, termed a “subsequent examination of documents,” as also part of the whole application.
The witness stated that Woewiyu did not file an appeal.
In this case, Eikerenkoetter reviewed Woewiyu’s A-File and read the contents in advance. She said that a student visa for flight school was in the A-File, and that it was natural for it to be there, as the A-File collected all documents relating to Woewiyu’s legal status. She confirmed that the A-File included another request for an F-1 student visa three weeks after the first visa, when Woewiyu decided to go to computer programming school. She said the later visa was executed in April 1969.
Eikerenkoetter confirmed that when she looked at Woewiyu’s A-File prior to the interview, she saw more recent documents as well, including a document dated May 13, 2006. She confirmed that the document discussed arms purchased by Woewiyu for the NPFL, and said that there were handwritten notes at the bottom of these documents.
Eikerenkoetter testified that she also saw a memorandum in Woewiyu’s A-File from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (“INS”), discussing a “hit resolution” for Woewiyu. It said that he was on “lookout security,” and that a “hit” that came up on a computer for Woewiyu had been “resolved.” She said the memorandum indicated an “ICE Miami Duty Agent” said Woewiyu was on “lookout only,” and that it was “okay to process his I-90.” Eikerenkoetter told the jury that an I-90 is an application to replace a green card. She stated that this memorandum was put into the A-File around 2006.
Eikerenkoetter testified that she also reviewed a document in Woewiyu’s A-File that was called “An Open Letter to Madame Ellen Johnson Sirleaf,” that would have been put in the file in 2008. She confirmed she would have read it, as she reviewed everything in the file.
Eikerenkoetter testified that she met with Woewiyu on January 30, 2009. She said that he brought in his required documents, and had his fingerprints taken before Eikerenkoetter arrived, so they could be run through a criminal database. She confirmed he then took and passed the various tests, and she then went over the Form N-400 with him.
The witness said she believed that there have been two modifications to Form N-400 that were made after Woewiyu originally completed the form, and that the current version of the form is about twice as long as the version Woewiyu completed. She confirmed that Woewiyu’s Form N-400 was filled out with help from a different attorney than the one who appeared with him at his interview. She stated that she could tell it was filled out on a computer, as the Xs in boxes were not handwritten. She confirmed they made some corrections to the form as they went through it together, and the last thing she would have an applicant do is sign the Form N-400 attesting to any corrections made. She confirmed that she then made the determination to request more information, as the things she asked about “are just the quick things you do” if someone initially filed their application three years ago, and were now divorced. Eikerenkoetter testified that she never received a response to the Form N-14 she sent to Woewiyu, requesting additional information.
Eikerenkoetter agreed that in her memorandum to file, it was a mistake that she called Woewiyu “Mr. Thomas.” She said that she did not ask for records of Woewiyu’s criminal history because it was outside the statutory period for immigration applications, which she explained covers the five years preceding the date of filing an application. She explained that getting records from the 1970s was not important to a naturalization determination because they are outside the statutory date, and because Woewiyu provided a letter from the State of New York saying that no records were found. The witness confirmed that even if he had provided such records, they would not be considered either way, as they would be outside the five-year period.
Eikerenkoetter told the jury that sometimes she is asked to explain the question about an applicant’s associations. She agreed that if an applicant did not bring a lawyer to an interview, they might have many questions. She agreed that if an applicant were on a school board, or involved in a political organization or running for office, that should be considered “an association” for purposes of the application. She testified that associations should be listed whether they are in the United States, or anywhere else. She confirmed that per the guiding regulations, if an applicant orally corrected information during an interview, Form N-400 would have to be corrected by hand to conform with the oral statements that were made. This was what she did with her red pen.
Eikerenkoetter confirmed that during his interview, Woewiyu told her that he was member of the Liberian Senate, and held several positions there. She agreed the Senate was a group, but said that she did not add it to the relevant section on the Form, but she mentioned it in her memorandum. She agreed that the guiding regulations said she “shall” correct an application to conform to oral statements made in an interview, and characterized the discrepancy here as an “oversight.”
The witness stated the interview began at 10 a.m., but that she did not record when it ended. She did not recall taking notes, although she could do so under the regulations. She said that she wrote a memorandum instead.
On re-direct, Eikerenkoetter again was asked to review the May 13, 2006 document initially shown to her by the defense, which discussed arms trafficking. She testified that it had no influence on her decisions with regard to Woewiyu. She stated that if his letter to Sirleaf was in the file when she received it, then she read it; she did not now recall having read it. Eikerenkoetter testified that Woewiyu’s letter to Sirleaf did not have any effect on whether she fairly considered him for citizenship. She confirmed that she did not ask him if he was a member of the NPFL, although the designation was in his letter.
Eikerenkoetter told the jury that, in her view, Woewiyu was testifying when he answered her questions during his interview, as he was under oath.
Eikerenkoetter stated that a conviction outside the statutory timeframe does “not matter” for naturalization, but that if an applicant lied about it, the lie does make a difference, as applicants are “under oath to tell the truth.”
Eikerenkoetter confirmed that the new Form N-400 is longer than the version of the N-400 Woewiyu submitted. She was shown certain questions in the new Form N-400 and asked to compare those questions to questions on the version of the form Woewiyu completed. In particular, Eikerenkoetter was asked to compare the language of questions 8, 10 and 11 on the form Woewiyu completed, and questions 9, 11, and 12, respectively, on the current version of Form N-400. As shown below, questions 10 and 11 as they appeared on the form that Woewiyu answered are identical to current questions 11 and 12, respectively, and the witness confirmed this in her testimony. Question 8 on the prior version of Form N-400, which asked about association in any groups, differs in part from current question 9.
Prior Version of Form N-400, Used by Woewiyu in 2006:
8. Have you EVER been a member of or associated with any organization, association, fund, foundation, party, club, society, or similar group in the United States or in any other place?
10. Have you EVER advocated (either directly or indirectly) the overthrow of any government by force or violence?
11. Have you EVER persecuted (either directly or indirectly) any person because of race, religion, national origin, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion?
Current Version of Form N-400, Written in 2016:
9. Have you EVER been a member of, involved in, or in any way associated with, any organization, association, fund, foundation, party, club, society, or similar group in the United States or in any other location in the world?
11. Have you EVER advocated (either directly or indirectly) the overthrow of any government by force or violence?
12. Have you EVER persecuted (either directly or indirectly) any person because of race, religion, national origin, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion?
The new form changed the question about belonging to groups “in the United States or any other place” to “in the United States in any other location in the world.”
Eikerenkoetter confirmed that it would have made a difference to her whether Woewiyu lied under oath with regard to a conviction during the five-year statutory period. She reiterated that lying under oath goes to an applicant’s good moral character, and if an applicant does not have such a character, that alone is a basis to deny the application.
On re-cross, the defense asked further questions about the new Form N-400. The witness said she was aware of two modifications to the form. She agreed that each time the Form has been updated, it has gotten longer. She said the purpose was to get as much information as possible from an applicant, because an Immigration Officer is going to make a determination about whether to grant the application based on the form. She agreed that the edits to Form N-400 have made it more specific to aid Officers. In reviewing the new Form N-400, she said it was last updated on December 23, 2016.
Eikerenkoetter agreed that the 2016 Form added “involved in, or in any way associated with” to the question about associations, in case the person was not a full “member” of an association. She stated that the part of the question about “associating with” a group was on the previous form as well. The Form added “any other location in the world” and “dates of membership” to the required questions, so Officers could have a fuller picture of the applicant.
Eikerenkoetter agreed, in looking at the 2016 Form, that it added new questions about specific activities, following the membership question. She confirmed that it asked new questions about an applicant’s involvement in genocide, torture, killing or trying to kill, hurting or trying to hurt, forcing sex, or impeding the free exercise of religion. She confirmed that it also added questions about serving in a military or paramilitary unit (and defined “paramilitary”), the police, a self-defense group, a vigilante group (and defined “vigilante”), a rebel group, a guerilla group (as defined), a militia (as defined), or an insurgent organization (as defined). There are also new questions about whether an applicant is a worker or volunteer or soldier serving in a prison, a prison camp, a detention camp (as defined), a labor camp (as defined), or anywhere else people are forced to stay. She confirmed these new questions were not asked of Woewiyu.
Eikerenkoetter testified that the questions are also new about being in or helping a group that used weapons. The questions about selling or providing weapon are also new. Eikerenkoetter confirmed that Woewiyu was not asked any of those questions. Other new questions involved whether an applicant ever received military or paramilitary (as defined) or weapons training; recruited (as defined) or conscripted (as defined) or used a person under 15 years old; or used a person under 15 in combat.
Eikerenkoetter stated that Woewiyu’s convictions are outside the statutory period. She testified that when she reviewed his A-File, in the back of it were 20 pages or so of certified copies of his criminal convictions from New York. The witness did not specifically recall that these documents were in the File, but was “assuming that” they were there. Eikerenkoetter confirmed that it was usual that, as an applicant was applying for a green card and things of that nature, as the applicant’s criminal record was obtained by Immigration, it would be put in the File. Eikerenkoetter confirmed she would have reviewed this information before the interview in 2009.
Eikerenkoetter was shown a cover sheet for a Record of Proceeding, which is the beginning of a criminal record in the back of an A-File. She said the sheet looked familiar. The next page was a record of an investigation from Immigration, saying the records attached were from a criminal court in New York. Eikerenkoetter examined the document and confirmed it was a Request for a Record Check in the 1970s, referring to Woewiyu’s criminal record. Eikerenkoetter characterized it as “fair to say” that there was information in Woewiyu’s file about prior criminal records in New York.
On re-direct, the government attorney asked Eikerenkoetter whether the fact of the criminal record in his A-File relieved Woewiyu of the right to be truthful under oath about that record. She testified that, “No, it does not.”
Witness 33: Peggy Lin Chang
The prosecution’s next witness was Peggy Lin Chang. She testified to her educational background in political science, and told the jury she has a law degree from Temple University. She has been working for Immigration for almost 17 years. She testified that she started with the INS, which is now USCIS. She began as a District Adjudications Officer, a position which is now called an Immigration Services Officer. Then she became a Senior Immigration Services Officer, she said, and is now a USCIS Appeals Officer. Chang stated that as an Adjudications Officer, she did green card applications, family-based applications, and naturalization applications. She said that as a Senior Officer, she performed more complex services. As an Appeals Officer, she deals with appeals or motions to appeal, and currently only works on appeals of denials of business visas.
Chang testified that CARP stands for something like “Controlled Application Resolution,” and is a process by which special cases were designated, and went through a more careful process. She explained that the general criteria for a CARP case was a national security issue, including terrorist cases or “egregious public safety” concerns. She explained that this did not refer to the petty theft type of crime, but instead to very serious crimes, of which war crimes would be an example.
Chang recalled being assigned the Woewiyu case in July 2009, through the USCIS Fraud Branch. She recalled being told, “This is a CARP case, do what we usually do with a CARP case.” She explained that the eligibility assessment is the first step in such a case, and that internal and external vetting is then performed as necessary.
Chang explained that an eligibility assessment is done in every citizenship application. She explained that for naturalization, questions to be probed include good moral character, physical presence, and a continuous residence. She explained that a “big part” of this assessment is if Legal Permanent Resident (“LPR”) status was lawfully obtained. She agreed that English-language proficiency is part of the naturalization process. She testified that she personally adjudicated at least several hundred such applications.
To make her own assessment, Chang said, she reviewed Woewiyu’s A-File and conducted her own research. She said there are standard checks which are done for all cases, and that an Officer can also check Internet sources, to look for whatever is publicly available. She said that USCIS databases would allow access to relevant fingerprint records, and another internal database would provide brief information on applications and petitions that had been filed by an applicant.
Chang testified that when conducting her database and open source research, she saw abundant information about Woewiyu’s involvement with the NPFL and various groups. She said this was not on his Form N-400, although his positions within the Liberian government, and his travel dates, were a “big part” of his application. Chang testified that these open source resources gave her concerns about Woewiyu’s eligibility, because they indicated to her that Woewiyu was “very high up in the NPFL” as its Defense Minister and spokesperson. She said that she seemed “to remember he was Number Two” in the hierarchy, and it would “seem to me there was direct involvement or a high chance of involvement” with the NPFL.
Chang testified that evidence of Woewiyu’s travel to Liberia was important for naturalization, because both physical presence and continuous residence were required. She said that an applicant “must be in the United States” for a certain number of days out of the statutory period. She also stated that Immigration should be apprised of address changes approximately 11 days after the change.
Chang clarified that “internal database checks” included both an FBI name check, and a TECS database that contained information provided by the FBI. She explained that searchers using these databases would see “pending” or “no record” or a “positive” record for a name that was searched. The witness did not recall any information in Woewiyu’s file from the FBI or the Department of State. Chang testified that the TECS database brings up more information from various agencies.
Chang stated that she believed there were two TECS hits regarding Woewiyu, and recalled that one was about exporting weapons. She said this seemed “consistent” to her with the information she learned about the Liberian First Civil War and information about the NPFL. She said this kind of information meant she should “slow down and pay attention to the file” to assess more eligibility issues. Chang stated that if Woewiyu was involved in an illegal arms investigation, depending on the progress of a court case, he would be ineligible for naturalization, or even deportable. Chang stated that if she had ever received evidence that Woewiyu participated in an attempt to purchase illegal arms, but had not told the Immigration authorities, that could possibly constitute false testimony, “which goes to good moral character and is a bar to naturalization.”
Defense Objections to Prosecution’s Lines of Questioning
Defense counsel objected to the prosecution’s potential line of questioning about whether Chang’s letter denying Woewiyu’s application (as will be described below), would be prejudicial. The defense argued that in this case, Woewiyu has not be charged with lying to a government official or immigration official, and the prosecution’s indictment does not include this allegation. The defense argued that the prosecution should not be permitted to attempt to elicit evidence about charges not in the indictment.
The prosecution noted that Woewiyu’s 1970 arrest and conviction form one of the counts of perjury in the indictment.
The defense further objected to possible discussion about the flight school Woewiyu may have intended to attend, as well as to discussion of his alleged involvement in arms trafficking. Judge Brody said she would consider each objection in turn and would rule on these objections after further consideration and research.
The prosecution argued that the flight school information is part of the evidence that proves the government’s case, that it was part of the A-File, and that Woewiyu subsequently lied about it in his application process. The defense said Woewiyu did not admit lying about the flight school, and that the undercover recording of the drive from JFK to Philadelphia is open to interpretation.
Defense counsel said that if Woewiyu had lied about the flight school, counsel would concede that his answer on the Form N-400 would need to be “Yes,” that he had lied to a government officer. However, counsel said, the prosecution did not charge the defendant with that crime, or give the defense notice that it would proceed on this basis, and the defendant was not conceding this point.
Judge Brody noted that she would have to research the law on how much leeway the prosecution is allowed with respect to introducing evidence of alleged crimes that are not spelled out in the indictment. Judge Brody reserved ruling on the defense’s objections until she can review the case law on the issue.
The prosecution argued that it was not asserting that Woewiyu lied to a government officer as a basis to convict him, but rather that it showed him lying about something he was obligated to reveal.
Judge Brody reiterated that the only question is how far the government can go beyond specific acts mentioned in the indictment. She said the indictment mentioned and explained good moral character, and the discussion of lying to an official may go to that, but she needed to research the legal issue before she could rule.
The defense said that it also objected to a line of questioning related to arms trafficking, as it assumed the prosecution would say that Woewiyu should have affirmatively disclosed the trafficking. Defense counsel objected on the grounds that arms trafficking is not one of the counts in the indictment.
The prosecution argued that it did not assert Woewiyu’s arms trafficking as a basis for his conviction, but instead presented evidence on it because it went to the issue of Woewiyu being the Minister of Defense, and someone who sought to overthrow a government by force.
Judge Brody ruled that the line of questioning as to arms trafficking may continue, in regards to that aspect of advocating to overthrow a government.
The defense argued that the prosecution should not be able to argue in its closing that Woewiyu is guilty based on his alleged arms trafficking.
Judge Brody explained that the theory was raised early by the prosecution that arms trafficking evidenced Woewiyu’s position as Minister of Defense. She said that the issue of whether the prosecution can use Woewiyu’s supposed lying about why he came to the United States is separate, and she would rule on that issue later.
Witness 33: Peggy Lin Chang, Continued
Chang returned to the witness stand, and testified that she vaguely recalled criminal records which were included at the bottom of Woewiyu’s A-File. The witness was shown a document dated April 23, 1971, that she “vaguely” remembered seeing in the A-File. The document, a memorandum written by an INS investigator, noted that Woewiyu was charged with falsifying business records in 1970. The memorandum noted that the investigator attempted to locate Woewiyu, but he had changed his address, had not provided a forwarding address, and his contacts did not know where to find him. Chang agreed it was “fair to say” that at the time, Woewiyu’s whereabouts were unknown to the INS.
Chang was shown another document, dated June 9, 1970, that noted six people were arrested and charged with falsifying business records. She confirmed that, per the document, one of the people arrested was Thomas J. Smith. Chang was also shown a document dated October 26, 1970, indicating Woewiyu pled guilty to a Class A misdemeanor, and his sentence was an “unconditional discharge, to have no more conflict with the law.” The witness was shown the indictment against Woewiyu, dated in February of 1970, charging him with falsifying business records.
Chang testified that the records in Woewiyu’s A-File related to his arrest and conviction in 1970. She confirmed that a criminal conviction would impact LPR or citizenship status if it was “a crime of moral turpitude.” Chang said it was important to investigate if an applicant “convicted of CMIT would be deportable or inadmissible.” She explained that “CMIT” means “crime involving moral turpitude,” and that such crimes were usually theft, fraud, or a more severe offense, and that a person who is guilty of such a crime is deportable.
The witness was asked about the investigator’s report from 1971, which is marked with handwriting in red pen. The handwriting states that at the time of the notes, the investigator still could not find Woewiyu, but had concluded the crime was not one of moral turpitude.
Chang was shown a copy of Woewiyu’s completed Form I-130, a petition to classify someone as an immediate relative. She indicated that on the form, Woewiyu listed the date of his present marriage as March 13, 1971. Chang testified that Woewiyu obtained his LPR status through his marriage to his first wife.
The witness confirmed that in determining Woewiyu’s eligibility for naturalization, she reviewed his Form N-400 and related documents. She was shown a memorandum that she recognized as one from Marsha Eikerenkoetter, related to Woewiyu’s interview. Chang testified that Eikerenkoetter’s memorandum indicated Woewiyu initially said he had never been a member of or associated with any organization, and testified that “based on my research, I did not think this was true.” Chang said it “was a concern” that Woewiyu also said he never tried to or advocated the overthrow of a government.
Chang testified that she also came across the Truth and Reconciliation (“TRC”) Final Report, and that it was relevant to Woewiyu’s good moral character. She testified that she relied on it and its factual findings “heavily” in making her decision to deny Woewiyu’s naturalization application.
Chang told the jury that after she made an eligibility assessment, she believed (but had not reached a definitive conclusion) that Woewiyu was not eligible for citizenship. Before reaching a conclusion about his eligibility, Chang testified that she “wanted more information.” She explained that the basis of her belief was Woewiyu’s possible involvement with the NPFL and crimes associated with that involvement. She reiterated that for naturalization, an applicant cannot give false testimony, as it is a bar to naturalization. She explained that an applicant must meet the good moral character requirement, and must show physical presence and continuous residence, and lawfully possess a green card. In this case, she believed Woewiyu had provided false testimony, which did not indicate a good moral character, and she had concerns about whether Woewiyu had continuous residence in the U.S., and whether he abandoned his permanent residence in the U.S.
Chang testified that she chose to further investigate Woewiyu because she had other concerns about possible illegal activity. She said that an applicant’s good moral character encompasses possible false testimony, but also crimes committed by the applicant. She said she was also concerned about Woewiyu’s physical presence and continuous residence. She told the jury that she therefore issued a Form N-14 Request for Evidence, Chang’s first request to Woewiyu, but the second such request in his A-File. She confirmed that she could have denied Woewiyu “on the spot” before she issued this second Request for Evidence.
A document was shown to Chang. She identified it as her own Form N-14 Request for Evidence, the second in Woewiyu’s A-File. It was dated July 15, 2009. It requested a notarized written statement from Woewiyu, addressing many additional questions.
The witness examined the Request for Evidence, and identified the first question heading as dealing with Woewiyu’s offices and official positions in Liberia, any diplomatic privileges he held, any travel in an official capacity, and a request for copies of any diplomatic passports or other documentation he might hold. Chang testified that this question went to the issue of Woewiyu possibly abandoning his permanent residence in the United States. The second question heading asked how Woewiyu managed to hold the positions of Minister of Labor, Senator, and Pro Tempore of the Senate in Liberia while maintaining a residence in the United States. Chang testified that this also went to the issue of Woewiyu’s permanent residence. The third question asked for an accurate list of Woewiyu’s travel dates from 2001 to the present, for the same reason. Chang explained that the request for travel dates begins in 2001, because the statutory period the application was concerned with begins five years before an application was submitted.
The fourth question in Chang’s Request for Evidence involved children and the evidence of child support. She told the jury that this evidence went to three issues: child support, false testimony, and a green card lawfully obtained. She explained that if children were conceived through an undisclosed prior marriage, she would have to make sure that earlier marriage was terminated before an applicant married the U.S. citizen through whom the applicant obtained a green card. The fifth question referred to Eikerenkoetter’s request for IRS tax records, and renewed that request. Chang later learned that Woewiyu responded through his lawyer to that first Request for Evidence, but submitted the response to a different office. Chang’s sixth question sought to confirm the divorce dates listed on Woewiyu’s Form N-400, to make sure they were after he received his green card.
The seventh item on Chang’s Request for Evidence referred to Woewiyu’s “Open Letter to Madame Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.” The witness did not recall how she found the letter; she testified that she either found it online, or it was already in the file. She remembered reviewing it as part of her initial assessment of Woewiyu. She testified that she found it significant because it came from Woewiyu himself, and was therefore more credible. She stated that the letter indicated he was part of the NPFL and other organizations that were not disclosed on his Form N-400, and that “it seemed like he had a very significant role.” Chang’s Request stated that other Internet searches linked him to the NPFL as well; Chang said that either she performed the searches, or someone else did and they were in Woewiyu’s A-File.
Despite this involvement in groups, the only association Woewiyu identified on his Form N-400 was the Union of Liberian Associations in the United States, so Chang’s Request asked him to explain the discrepancy. The witness stated it was significant to her, because Woewiyu did not disclose the truth during his naturalization interview. The Request asked Woewiyu for information about groups he was in, and to explain specifically the nature of the organizations and where they were based, as well as any titles or positions he held, or money he donated. Chang told the jury that she asked for this information because she wanted to know his role, which went to false testimony and good moral character grounds.
Chang’s eighth question heading indicated that Internet searches revealed Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf filed a lawsuit against Woewiyu. Chang’s Request stated that she wanted to know what the claims were against him in that lawsuit, and to see if it also impacted his good moral character. The ninth question related to Internet searches that indicated Woewiyu ran for President of Liberia in 2005, as it went to the abandonment of the continuous residence and physical presence requirements.
Chang testified that when she issued Woewiyu a Form N-14 Request for Evidence, it did not in any way negate his obligation to tell the truth during his interview. Applicants “have to tell the truth at your interview” because “that’s the integrity of the process. You have to be truthful during the interview.”
Chang confirmed that she received a response to her Form N-14 from Woewiyu’s lawyer, dated August 13, 2009. The letter was from Raymond Basso, Woewiyu’s attorney. Attached was a copy of Chang’s Request for Evidence or “Continuance,” Woewiyu’s answers to Chang’s questions, and a time-stamped Form N-14 from March 15, 2009 to show he did respond to Eikerenkoetter’s Request for Evidence. He also sent copies of passports, and an article covering the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf lawsuit.
The witness examined the letter and confirmed that it noted dates of Woewiyu’s travels. It also noted the positions he held in Liberia, including the dates. This included the Minister of Defense or spokesman for NPRAG. “By the end of 1990,” he wrote, the NPFL controlled the majority of the country, although ECOWAS intervened with a peacekeeping force. He wrote that exiled Liberians met in Banjul and formed a transitional government that excluded the NPFL, despite the NPFL controlling the majority of the country. He wrote that in response, the NPFL formed NPRAG to govern the areas of Liberia it controlled. He described himself, prior to his involvement in NPRAG, as the spokesman and chief negotiator of the NPFL. Woewiyu explained that the NPFL was an “extension of the opposition movement” against Doe, which launched a “civil uprising.”
Chang confirmed that Woewiyu did not indicate what he did as the Minister of Defense. She testified that he did not say whether he gave orders or acquired arms.
Chang examined Woewiyu’s answer to the question about his associations with groups. In his answers, he mentioned the ULAA; his church, 1983-1987; President of ULAA, 1987-1990; and Chairman of the Board of ULAA, also in 1987. The witness read into the record Woewiyu’s written explanation of the NPFL as arising “in response to the brutal military regime of Samuel Doe.” He said it was a “group of patriotic Liberians who committed themselves to the removal of the regime by any means necessary.” He indicated that “my approval was necessary” as a leader of the Liberian diaspora, so in the course of the uprising that started in December 1989, he became a spokesman.” Woewiyu’s answer to Chang’s first question stated that he broke away from Taylor because of his recalcitrance, and said that the effort of his new group, the NPFL-CRC, brought an end to the war in 1996.
Chang confirmed that Woewiyu did not say anything about being Minister of Defense. She told the jury he said it earlier, but did not mention it when asked to list the extent of his past and present group involvement.
Chang stated that there was one instance where Woewiyu provided her something and it changed her initial conclusion that he was not eligible for citizenship. She testified that she initially had concerns about his first marriage being a cover to obtain U.S. citizenship, but she was not concerned about that after receiving his written response. She said that this was only answer that actually changed her mind as a result of seeing Woewiyu’s response to the Request for Evidence; his responses otherwise confirmed his affiliations and memberships in various groups, including the NPFL, and did not change her initial conclusion that he was not eligible for citizenship. She testified that the new information did not change her conclusion about whether he ever advocated for the overthrow of a government, or whether he was ineligible based on lying about persecutions. “He made statements to confirm those concerns,” she said, including in his explanation about the NPFL as a group “committed to the removal of the regime by any means necessary, including an armed uprising.”
Chang confirmed that these subsequent statements “did not relieve [Woewiyu] of his obligation to tell the truth” in his interview on January 30, 2009.
Chang recalled that she issued her decision on Woewiyu’s application on August 12, 2010. She was shown a copy the denial letter that was sent to Woewiyu and identified it. Chang testified that she wrote the letter, although it carried the signature of the relevant Field Office Director. In the letter, Chang provided a procedural history and wrote that another review of the file was subsequently conducted. Chang read into the record portions of the denial letter.
Chang’s denial letter stated that Woewiyu “failed to demonstrate good moral character,” because he attempted to overthrow a government and he persecuted people. According to Woewiyu’s notarized statement in response to Chang’s Form N-14 Request for Evidence, in 1987, Woewiyu became a member of the NPFL. In December 1989, he became a spokesman of the NPFL, led by Charles Taylor. In 1989-1990, Woewiyu was the spokesman and chief negotiator, and was then the Minister of Defense and a founder of NPFL-CRC.
Based on Woewiyu’s involvement in the NPFL, Chang said, the Immigration Officer determined he lacked good moral character for the purposes of naturalization. The denial letter stated that Woewiyu was implicated in gross human rights violations both individually and by virtue of the critical command role he played. The letter then discussed the TRC’s Final Report, which was published and submitted to the people of Liberia in 2009. The Report named the NPFL a “significant violator,” a category given to groups who committed the highest number of violations during the war. Chang’s memorandum listed, among other types of violations, egregious domestic crimes, gross human rights violations, and humanitarian violations. Chang’s memorandum relied on the TRC report as evidence of these violations.
According to Chang’s memorandum, the TRC found that the NPFL committed 39% of all reported violations during the war, an “overwhelming” amount. Chang’s letter stated that Immigration could not overlook Woewiyu’s role, which was high enough that it made “it more likely than not that [he] had personal involvement.” The letter specifically mentioned that, according to the TRC, Woewiyu was responsible for the murder of six Senegalese ECOMOG peacekeepers. Chang testified that the footnotes on the bottom of the letter cite to pages of the TRC. The letter concluded that the “central role you played in the NPFL” and its status as a “significant violator” thus meant that Woewiyu failed to demonstrate good moral character for purposes of naturalization
Chang testified that Woewiyu’s language on his response to her Form N-14 Request for Evidence “confirmed or helped” her decision.
Chang examined the second heading of Woewiyu’s denial letter, which indicated Woewiyu “provided false testimony during the naturalization interview.” She read into the record portions of the letter, regarding Woewiyu’s “inadequate” answer to the Form N-400 question about his membership in groups or associations. The discussion is footnoted to Woewiyu’s open letter to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and refers to open source searches that indicate Woewiyu was a member of the NPFL. Chang continued to read the letter aloud; it stated that in Woewiyu’s notarized statement, he indicated he “fumbled in his briefcase while trying to find a supporting document.”
Chang said that Woewiyu’s failure to indicate his associations was “not plausible.” “Even if you felt hurried,” Chang said, that “does not indicate why you initially said no” to belonging to any groups, nor why Woewiyu did not disclose his membership in the NPFL, which is “seemingly unrelated” to the ULAA, until after he was asked about the NPFL by Chang. Chang recalled that Woewiyu argued that the ULAA was an umbrella organization that included organizations in Liberia, but Chang again found this explanation not plausible. Chang testified this question was significant, because she felt that Woewiyu “was not forthcoming until we told him that we knew about his membership” in the NPFL.
Chang’s letter further denied Woewiyu on the grounds of false testimony he provided about advocating the overthrow of government, and persecution. The denial was based on his “integral leadership role” in the NPFL, and the denial letter stated that the determination included Chang’s review of the TRC. The letter stated that the NPFL’s murder of ethnic minorities and peacekeepers was inherently the persecution of people based on their ethnicities or membership in social groups, which were addressed by that question on the Form N-400.
Chang’s letter continued by saying that Woewiyu “materially misrepresented [himself] during” the interview, because he cut off a “significant line of questioning” about the NPFL and was “not forthcoming or credible” – in fact, had a “lack of credibility – that also factors into overall lack of good moral character.”
Chang testified that the forced recruitment of child soldiers by the NPFL, or the knowledge of Woewiyu’s personal use of them, would be important for determining Woewiyu’s eligibility because they would be international law violations. He explained that ethnic cleansing is similarly important to know, as it would be a bar to naturalization. She testified that separating people on the basis of their tribe or ethnicity would also preclude good moral character.
On cross-examination, Chang confirmed that she thoroughly reviewed the A-File prior to her determination. She confirmed that the A-File contained emails between agencies sharing information about Woewiyu, as well as Internet articles. The witness did not recall if she printed them to add to the File, or if they were already there. She confirmed that she investigated the case from her office, and did not interview Woewiyu or anyone else.
Chang examined an email thread from July 7, 2009, that was sent to her by a third party, which included an email from a Department of State employee regarding a “poison pen” letter. According to the email, this was sent to State by an individual whom the email opined was attempting to ingratiate himself with the current rulers of Liberia. The email stated that the writer probably had not suffered human rights abuses, as he was a former Minister of Commerce. The email was sent on September 21, 2007.
Chang testified that she drafted the N-336 Decision on Naturalization, the letter sent to Woewiyu that denied his application. She confirmed that in preparing her final decision, she wrote that “for purposes of the naturalization application,” she “relied solely on the findings of Liberian TRC.” She confirmed that the page numbers footnoted in her letter cited to the TRC. Chang was then shown a copy of the TRC Final Report, and agreed after an examination that she gave a substantive history of the TRC’s founding in her denial letter to Woewiyu. In that denial, she stated that USCIS is “not in a position to debate” the TRC’s finding.
The witness did not recall how much money was spent on the TRC investigation. The witness examined a relevant page of the TRC report, and confirmed that it said a little over seven million dollars was spent. Chang did not recall that the TRC took a little over 40,000 statements from witnesses, although she understood that there was an effort to take a large number of statements. Chang confirmed that the Final Report was submitted within a few weeks of the Form N-14 Chang sent to Woewiyu. Chang testified that although she wrote that she “relied solely on” the TRC, she “also took into account other stuff.” However, she said she did “heavily” rely on the TRC.
Chang read into the record a footnote in her letter, which was attached to a sentence she was asked about during her direct examination. That sentence stated that the TRC found Woewiyu guilty of gross human rights violations. Chang read the footnote aloud, which said that Woewiyu was subject to public sanctions and barred from serving in public office for 30 years by the TRC. Chang then read aloud the page she cited to in the TRC, but disagreed with defense counsel that was the entire punishment suggested by the TRC, though she did not testify about what other punishments were suggested by the TRC. The witness noted both Woewiyu and then-president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf were on the list of people who were subject to sanctions.
The witness did not know that Ellen Johnson Sirleaf served a second term as president after the TRC report was published. She did not know the Liberian Supreme Court later overturned sanctions suggested by the TRC. The witness did know Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was later named a Nobel laureate.
Chang confirmed that when she wrote her N-336 denial letter to Woewiyu, she looked to see if Woewiyu was on the lists suggested by the TRC for prosecution or other punishment. The defense showed Chang a list of eight perpetrators recommend for prosecution as leaders of warring factions, and confirmed Woewiyu’s name was not on the list. The defense showed Chang a list of those recommended for prosecution who were “the most notorious perpetrators,” 160 people, and confirmed that Woewiyu was not on the list. The defense showed Chang a list of 102 mercenaries, and Woewiyu was not on the list. The TRC also maintained a list of those recommended for domestic prosecution, and Woewiyu’s name was not on the list. Chang was shown a list of individuals recommended for prosecution for their economic crimes, and confirmed Woewiyu was not on that list either. Chang was shown a list of individuals recommended for further investigation, and confirmed Woewiyu was not on the list.
Chang could not recall how many times Woewiyu’s name is mentioned in the TRC Final Report, but said it was “a few.” Defense counsel showed the witness the three sections of the TRC that referred to Woewiyu. The witness confirmed that Woewiyu’s name appeared in a discussion of the peace conference at the U.S. Embassy, as well as in a discussion of the transitional government and the factional fighting around Monrovia.
Chang wrote in her denial letter that Woewiyu ordered the murder of six Senegalese soldiers. Chang was then shown a portion of the TRC that reported soldiers were murdered “on orders of Charles Taylor and defense minister Thomas Woewiyu.” The witness said that she read that statement as meaning orders both men gave orders for there murders, but confirmed she did not specifically write that Charles Taylor was one of those who ordered the murders. She agreed that she said “you ordered,” meaning Woewiyu.
Chang confirmed that she did not try to interview any of the witnesses mentioned in Woewiyu’s A-File. She confirmed that she did not speak to anyone at ULAA to find out about Woewiyu’s service there. She did not speak to Woewiyu’s attorney about what happened at the hearing. Chang said that such contact would be “not normal.”
Chang did not recall if she read the entirety or most of the TRC report. She said she “probably skipped over” the methodology part of the report. Reviewing portions of the report, she confirmed that the TRC found all factions had committed atrocities, when engaged in armed conflict. She did not recall if the TRC determined all factions recruited and used child soldiers. Chang confirmed that in her denial letter, she referred to “a chart” that showed the NPFL committed 39% of the violations in the war. She vaguely recalled the chart, and was shown it. It indicated atrocities committed by all armed factions.
Chang confirmed that she denied Woewiyu’s Citizenship Application, and he did not appeal.
Witness 7: Jennifer Lohmeier
Special Agent Lohmeier returned to the stand as the final witness for the prosecution. She testified that in the course of the Woewiyu investigation, she obtained a certified copy of an indictment of Woewiyu from the State of New York issued on June 8, 1970. She testified that she had compared this to a copy of the indictment in Woewiyu’s A-File. She said that pages attached to the certified copy contain pages that are missing from the copy in the A-File, including a bench warrant. Lohmeier confirmed that, based on her review of the certified copy, a bench warrant was issued, Woewiyu arrested, appeared in court, was arraigned, charged, and pled guilty to the misdemeanor crime of falsification of business records.
Lohmeier confirmed that she was present at the interviews of some of witnesses for this trial. She testified that some of the witnesses were illiterate. On a large-scale map before the jury, she identified some of the locations mentioned by some of the witnesses on a map of Liberia, pointing to Bakiedou, 15 Gate, Cotton Tree, and other villages that were referred to in witnesses’ testimony. Counsel went one by one through the witnesses, while Lohmeier pointed out on a large map the towns and villages discussed. Lohmeier also examined a large-scale map of Monrovia and identified various neighborhoods, suburbs, and locations near the city; these included Duwalla, Caldwell, the Fendell campus of the University of Liberia, and the buffer zone around Mount Barclay.
On a brief cross-examination, Lohmeier testified that she never traveled to Liberia. She explained that she was familiar with a map of the country based on her work with witnesses and through her own personal review of the map. She agreed that some of the witnesses were illiterate, but said she could find and recognize places on the map based on their descriptions, as well as the placement of other villages they were referring to.
Lohmeier testified that she sought a certified copy of Woewiyu’s conviction on her own, not from his A-File. She confirmed that as an FBI Special Agent, she had looked at many criminal histories, including Woewiyu’s. She testified that she was only aware of Woewiyu’s 1970 conviction, and not his conviction in 1982; Lohmeier indicated she would have to refer to the 1982 conviction records to familiarize herself with them. The witness was shown a document from the A-File and confirmed it was from Woewiyu’s 1970 conviction, showing he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and was given an unconditional discharge. Lohmeier was shown a second document and confirmed she saw it previously in the A-File, and that it showed Woewiyu pled guilty to receiving stolen property as a misdemeanor and was given an unconditional discharge. Lohmeier stated she did not know what an unconditional discharge is, and confirmed that even as an FBI agent, she does not know what an unconditional discharge is.
The government rested its case. Tomorrow morning, the defense will begin the presentation of its case.
Proposed Stipulated Documents
Defense counsel discussed documents it wanted to admit via the federal agents whose presence the defense had requested. The parties agreed to admit three documents via stipulation in lieu of having a witness to authenticate the documents through testimony. The prosecution suggested that some information in these documents needs to be redacted and the defense will propose redactions to the documents for the prosecution to consider.