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Christopher Dudus Coke: Pleads Guilty

Jamaica, the country that brought the world such sportsmen like Usain Bolt and entertainers like Bob Marleyalso has a dark side. That dark side is represented by Christopher "Dudus" Coke.

In August 2009 the U.S. issued an international warrant seeking the extradition of Christopher Coke from Jamaica to face gun and drugs charges in the U.S. He was accused of being the leader and mastermind behind the notorious "Shower Posse" gang which was involved in the international trafficking of drugs and firearms.

For a long time the government of Jamaica resisted the request but finally, bowing to domestic and international political pressure, moved to arrest Mr. Coke in his neighborhood known as Tivoli Gardens.

The residents of Tivoli Gardens were fiercely loyal to Mr. Coke and when the police and army moved in to execute the warrant they met stiff resistance. The residents erected barricades and engaged in gun battles. The confrontation resulted in the deaths of more than 70 people and substantial property damage as the armed forces went door to door in search of Mr. Coke. In the end Christopher Dudus Coke was captured.

In June 2010 he was extradited to the U.S. to face the charges.

On Sept. 2, 2011 Dudus pleaded guilty in a New York court to assault and racketeering charges bringing to an end a two-year international drama between Jamaica and the United States.

Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 8, 2011 and Christopher "Dudus" Coke faces a possible 23 years in prison.

As noted in the Jamaican Gleaner, the capture and eventual incarceration of Coke was hampered by political considerations. He was not only generous to the people of his neighborhood, Tivoli Gardens, but could be depended on by the political party, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) to deliver the votes at election time. In fact Tivoli Gardens is the seat in Parliament of the current Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, who was reluctant to issue the arrest warrant in the first place.

Christopher Coke personifies the kind of threat to the security and democracy of small and vulnerable countries like Jamaica. Control of large amounts of resources, illicitly derived notwithstanding, endow gangsters with the capacity to corrupt the political process and to control many levers of the State by proxy. Indeed, Coke's activities - and the criminal machinations of others - were an open secret in Jamaica.

The newspaper also noted that perhaps Jamaica owes a debt of gratitude to the U.S. for pursuing Christopher Coke, since murders and serious crime have plummeted since his capture and it would have been difficult, if not impossible, for the Jamaican authorities to have him tried and convicted locally.

However, given Coke's political and community connections, underpinned by his ability to distribute largesse and corral votes, it is likely that he would not have been arrested and prosecuted in Jamaica. Such an eventuality would have been made more difficult by the political fault lines in Jamaica.

Christopher Dudus Coke had previously been charged with offenses that carried a sentence of life in prison. When prosecutors approached him and said that they also had evidence that he had ordered the deaths of at least five persons and a judge ruled that tapes of bugged phone calls in which he discusses smuggling marijuana, cocaine and weapons could be played in court, Coke decided to plead guilty to the lesser charges of Conspiracy to racketeer and Conspiracy to commit assault in aid of racketeering. 

 Coke stood up in court and said:

“I ordered the purchase of firearms and the importation of those firearms into Jamaica in furtherance of this conspiracy”

When asked about his plea Coke said:

“I’m pleading guilty because I am guilty”

US Attorney Preet Bharara said: 

“For nearly two decades, Christopher Coke led a ruthless criminal enterprise that used fear, force and intimidation to support its drug and arms trafficking ‘businesses’.

 “Today’s plea is a welcome conclusion to this ugly chapter.”


Dharun Ravi Indicted in Suicide Case

Tyler Clementi and Dharun Ravi, both 18, were freshmen roommates at Rutgers University. On Sept. 22, 2010 Tyler Clementi committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge after learning that his roommate, Dharun Ravi, had secretly recorded and broadcast a video of him, Tyler Clementi, and another man engaging in homosexual behavior. At the time Dharun Ravi and an accomplice, Molly Wei, were both charged with invasion of privacy. They faced a 5-year sentence if convicted. The have both left Rutger's University.


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Prosecutors have now decided to upgrade the charges against Dharun Ravi. A grand jury in Middlesex County, New Jersey, handed down a 15-count indictment on April, 20, 2011, charging former Rutgers University freshman with a host of charges connected to his roommate Tyler Clementi's suicide.

Included in the indictment are:

  • Invasion of Privacy
  • Bias Intimidation
  • Attempted Invasion of Privacy
  • Tampering with Physical Evidence
  • Hindering Apprehension or Prosecution
  • Witness Tampering

Prosecutors alleged Ravi not only invaded his roommate's privacy, but tried to cover it up. In addition to bias intimidation, Ravi was also charged with witness and evidence tampering for allegedly destroying evidence and sending false tweets in an effort to throw off investigators.

The parents of Tyler Clementi reacted to the indictment by issuing the following statement:

"The grand jury indictment spells out cold and calculated acts against our son Tyler by his former college roommate. If these facts are true, as they appear to be, then it is important for our criminal justice system to establish clear accountability under law. We are eager to have the process move forward for justice in this case and to reinforce the standards of acceptable conduct in our society."



Cory Byrd Indicted in Death of 4-Year-Old

Something tragic happened to Marc Anthony Bookal, on Dec. 14, 2009, when he was 4 years old. He was killed. Despite a massive manhunt for the little boy, his body was not discovered until three months later, stuffed into two plastic bags and hidden under brush in a deserted field in the city of Newburgh, NY. 

The last person to see little Marc alive was his mother's boyfriend, Cory Byrd, who claimed that the boy had disappeared after he left unnoticed through an open door. Cory, who has a violent criminal record, was on parole at the time of the boy's disappearance. He was arrested on charges of endangering the welfare of a child and parole violation. To read more about this case click here.

Almost one year after finding the remains of Marc Bookal, Cory Byrd was charged with his murder. In fact Cory Byrd faces six charges in relation to the death of the 4-year-old:


  • Intentional Murder in the 2nd Degree 
  • Depraved Indifference Murder in the 2nd Degree
  • Manslaughter in the 1st Degree
  • Manslaughter in the 2nd Degree
  • Two Counts of Tampering with Physical Evidence


According to District Attorney Frank Phillips: “As a result of an autopsy it was determined that Marc Bookal died as a result of blunt force trauma and numerous injuries throughout his body and upon his head.”

“Obviously a very tragic event when anybody dies as a result of a homicide, compounded extraordinarily when that victim is 4 years of age,” the DA continued.

Marc Bookal's biological father, Yul Bookal said:

“Even if I lose my job, [I've] got be there. If I have be at the court, I don’t care, I got to be there for my son. I got to represent him. He’s dead, he can’t represent himself,”

Referring to Cory Byrd, Yul Bookal said:

“He’s just an evil [expletive]. He need to be put to death. I wish New York had the death penalty"

“What could a little four-year-old boy have done to make you kill him?” Yul Bookal said at the funeral last year. “I’m trying to make sense out of it, but it makes no sense.”


Muzzammil "Mo" Hassan: Guilty

Muzzammil "Mo" Hassan, 45, was convicted of second degree murder, Feb. 7, 2011, in the death of his wife Asiya Zubair Hassan who had filed for divorce just one week before her untimely death. The jury deliberated for just one hour after being handed the three-week long trial. The case generated interest because of the brutality of the crime and because of who the couple were.

On February 12, 2009 Muzzammil “Mo” Hassan stabbed his wife some 40 times before decapitating her in their Bridges TV studio located in Orchard Park NY. Hassan was the chief executive officer of the network and his wife, Asiya Zubair Hassan, was the general manager. Bridges TV was started in 1994 by Hassan and his wife in hopes of dispelling the negative image of Muslims after the 9/11 attacks. It was billed as the first English-language cable channel aimed at Muslims in the United States. The irony is of course how someone who wished to promote interfaith acceptance and tolerance could be involved in such a brutal crime.

According to reports, Hassan was having marital problems and had moved out of the house he shared with his wife and children. On the day of her death, Hassan had asked his wife of nine years to bring some of his clothes over to the TV studio. He had promised her he would not be there.....but he was.

"The defendant viciously killed ... and desecrated her (Aasiya's) body because six days earlier she had dared to file for divorce. Dared to seek a better life for herself and the children," Assistant District Attorney Paul Bonanno said in the prosecution's opening statement.

On Feb. 12, 2009, after killing his wife, Hassan went to the Orchard Park Police headquarters and told police what he had done. He was arrested and has been incarcerated ever since.

During the trial, which had been posponed several times in the ensuing two years, the prosecution said that Asiya Zubair Hassan had filed for divorce because of a history of physical and psychological abuse she had suffered at the hands of her husband. She had filed numerous complaints with the police but had failed to press any charges. She accused him of causing her to have a miscarriage four years ago by dragging her and sitting on her.

She also accused him of "flaunting another woman in her face". Just two days before her death she sent an email to this woman telling her how abusive her husband had been, providing photos of her battered face and destroyed belongings.

Asiya Hassan had tried to leave her husband before, fleeing to South Africa - where she underwent surgery for injuries suffered at his hands - and her native Pakistan but eventually returned to her husband, fearing he would find her no matter where she went.

At the trial Muzzammil Hassan's two adult children, Michael and Sonia Hassan, from a previous marriage also testified for the prosecution against their father. On the day of the murder they were both outside the studio where their step mother was killed, waiting for her in a car. See the video below.



Son and daughter testify against Hassan:

In his defense Muzzammil Hassan tried to cast himself in the role of an abused husband. After gaining permission from the judge, he acted as his own attorney. He claimed that his side of the story was never heard and he was being judged "guilty until proven innocent". In a two-hour summation he explained that he was the victim and merely killed his wife in self defense. Showing just how much he did not see himself as a defendant in a murder trial, he ended with the words: "I don't blame my wife". See a portion of his summation below. For more click here.


VIDEO: Hassan defense closing argument:

The Prosecutor, Curtin Gable, started the summation by saying:

"Self defense? Not a chance, not even close....this is intentional murder, plain and simple. Beyond a reasonable doubt, quite frankly beyond any doubt. The evidence is crystal clear and when you focus on the credible and relevant evidence your verdict will be clear as well."

To see more click here:


VIDEO: Hassan prosecution closing argument:


After the two sides had concluded it was the jury's time. They spoke loud and clear. The did not waste any time in coming to their decision. In less than one hour they returned a verdict of guilty.



Jury takes one hour to convict Hassan:



Kelly Williams-Bolar: Discrimination or Justice?

Kelly Williams-Bolar, 40, was sent to jail for 10 days and placed on probation for 3 years.

Judge Patricia Cosgrove handed down the sentence after Kelley was convicted on two felony counts of tampering with court records. Her crime - sending her two daughters to a better school district than the one in which she lived.

Kelly Williams-Bolar lived in the projects in Akron, Ohio. Her father, Edward L. Williams, lived in nearby Copley Township - a distance of about 7 miles. She registered her two daughters using their grandfather's address so that they could attend the better schools.

The school district became suspicious of the two girls' residence and hired a private detective, at a cost of about $6,000, to determine where they really lived. When the report came out, indicating that the girls did not actually live in the school district, their mother was arrested and brought before the court.

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Edward L. Williams and his daughter Kelly were also charged with a fourth-degree felony of grand theft. They were jointly accused of defrauding the school system for two years of educational services. The court determined the cost at $30,500 in tuition fees.

In handing down the sentence, Judge Patricia Cosgrove, said that her sentence was appropriate ''so that others who think they might defraud the school system perhaps will think twice.''

To add insult to injury, Kelly had been studying to become a teacher, taking night classes at the University of Akron, so that she and her daughters could have a better life. Now that will not happen. That opportunity was forever closed to Kelly with her felony conviction.

''Because of the felony conviction, you will not be allowed to get your teaching degree under Ohio law as it stands today,'' the judge said. ''The court's taking into consideration that is also a punishment that you will have to serve.''

 Although there are obvious differences, back in 1954 the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that in order to achieve racial integration in schools, blacks were bused into white schools where the standard of education was much higher. In many cases federal troops were sent in to protect the black students from harassment.

Kelly Williams-Bolar, was trying to achieve, albeit illegally, her own personal quest to afford her kids a better education. Her quest failed, most spectacularly, and not only did she receive jail time and a felony conviction to boot, but she also sacrificed any chance she had at earning a teaching degree to improve her own personal situation. Was it worth the effort?

On the other hand one has to speculate on the "diligence" with which the Copley Township school district pursued this case in hiring a private detective and prosecuting Kelly Williams-Bolar to the fullest extent of the law. Did they do the right thing?

If you would like to find out more about this situation or lend your support click here and also here.