RIVERSIDE, Calif – It was an emotional day in the court room as family members of the two Inland Empire men convicted of terrorism received their sentences.
Philippine national Ralph Kenneth DeLeon received a 25-year prison sentence after a jury found him guilty of three terrorism related charges last fall.
In his letter to US District Judge Virgina Philipps the 26-year-old Laguna-born DeLeon said he had no excuse for his senseless action, describing his conversion from Catholicism to Islam as over zealous.
He admitted he was not mad at the government but at himself.
As he denounced extremist violence in the letter, he said that upon his release he hopes to speak before mosques and youth about the peaceful teachings of the Quran.
His co-defendant Soheil Omar Kabir, the alleged ring leader of the plot to recruit and train several men to go to the Middle East and join Al Qaeda, was convicted of four counts and also received 25 years.
“I’m disappointed. I mean I think he should’ve deserved a sentence in the 10 year range which is what I recommended; very much on par with some of the cases I cited on my brief for conduct that was similar, if not worse than his. One of the factors that I had to deal with is this was a conspiracy. And with respect to conspiracy, it’s not just his own motivations that were at play but those of others. At a certain degree his sentence was higher because of the danger of the other co-defendants and it really wasn’t Mr. Deleon,” said DeLeon’s attorney David Thomas as he exited the courthouse.
Throughout the six-week trial and until now, DeLeon had argued he was entrapped by a confidential informant who persuaded him into organizing the alleged terror plot while Kabir was overseas.
“There’s definitely going to be an appeal. He’s already signed off on the appeal and I’ve already got it ready to file,” Thomas explained.
He added, “We’re hopeful on appeal that the court will see this was really a situation for entrapment. Even though I understand the government’s argument, the judges argument why it’s not, I think the jury should’ve been instructed and I think it would’ve made a difference.”
DeLeon’s parents shed tears inside the courtroom as the sentence was handed down, but declined to speak on camera.
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