De Freitas: I’m flat broke

He has filed a notice in the United States District declaring himself “all but broke.” He presented no credible sureties to assure his appearance in court if he did succeed in getting bail.

A bail hearing scheduled for 2 pm yesterday was suddenly called off and no one knows for sure when another hearing is scheduled.

But De Freitas, the alleged mastermind in the alleged plot, was granted leave to reopen and present a bail package in the future.

De Freitas, who lived in Queens, New York, admitted he has no stable history of employment. The last time he was gainfully employed was in 1995 when he was employed as a cargo worker at JFK Airport.

He described himself as being self-employed, although he could not show what he did for a living. He has been living on US $700 a month social security. In his document, De Freitas said he was single, has no ties to the community in which he lives, has no real estate, stocks, bonds, notes, automobiles or any other valuable property.

All he has in his name was US $50.70. According to the terror suspect, he is flat broke and cannot even afford a lawyer to represent him. He has so far accepted a court-appointed attorney Andrew Carter. But Carter has maintained his silence on the next step for De Freitas.

Because of what De Freitas stated in his document, Judge-Magistrate Matsumuto cancelled yesterday’s bail bearing.

The courthouse at Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn, is one of the tallest in the district, and was under heavy security. De Freitas’ bail hearing was listed before the Registry Clerk, but a visit to the judge’s clerk, discovered the cancellation.

A clerk sitting at the desk said it was very unusual for a bail hearing to be cancelled without reason. He volunteered that the only reason why it was cancelled was because of De Freitas’ own admission that he had no money and could not stand bail.

The clerk said De Freitas by admitting his circumstances meant “therefore, there is no one to stand his bail. For an offence for which he is charged, it is very unlikely that he would be granted his own bail,” the clerk added.

According to the clerk, it means that De Freitas would remain at the Sunset Park Detention facility in Brooklyn for an indefinite period. “That could be any length of time, months maybe, before something happens. One thing is certain, the defendant’s circumstances will not change with the passage of time,” the clerk added.

There was a buzz around the courthouse for De Freitas’ reappearing yesterday, with court staff and US Marshals very much in evidence.

But De Freitas was not the only man of interest. A man who identified himself as Farees Mohammed, a Trinidadian, was outside the court. He said he had come to see De Freitas, whom he described as his friend for the past 20 years. Mohammed said he migrated from Trinidad in the seventies, but became a Muslim some time later. He did not want to give his Christian name, saying he has been living in the United States illegally.

Mohammed said he met De Freitas at a mosque in 1987 and they became friends. He said he was very shocked to hear that his friend was involved in a plot to blow up JFK Airport. “That ain’t true at all. Blow up the airport with what?... he fingers? The man ain’t have a cent, I helping the man for the last three years, he all alone.”

Mohammed understandably did not want to be photographed, saying Trinidadians and Guyanese could now be the target of the Border Patrol officers. He was also disappointed that the bail hearing was cancelled. “I wanted to be here to give Russell my support, I even bring some things for him. You know how far I come for this case, you think it easy to be travelling up and down at my age.” Although he also refused to give his exact age, Mohammed said he was in his sixties.

Back inside the court, the judge’s clerk was more interested in the three men being held in Trinidad. “When are those guys coming here?” he asked before going in to see the judge.

De Freitas, 63, was arrested at Lindenwood Diner in Brooklyn last Friday and charged with three others – Trinidadian Kareem Ibrahim, and Guyanese Abdul Kadir and Abdel Nel with conspiracy to blow up buildings, fuel tanks and pipelines at JFK International Airport in New York.

De Freitas appeared before Judge-Magistrate Kiyo Matsumuto on Saturday last, but no charges were read to him, neither was any application for bail made. Yesterday was fixed for all of that.


"De Freitas: I’m flat broke"

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