Potts Gets 20-More Years for Cuba Hijacking

“Maximum Mike” brings down the hammer

By Tracey Eaton  (alongthemalecon)

William Potts.  Photo: Tracey Eaton
William Potts. Photo: Tracey Eaton

HAVANA TIMES – A Florida judge today slapped William Potts with 20 years in prison for hijacking a plane to Cuba in 1984.

Potts had asked the court for leniency, saying he already spent 13 1/2 years in prison in Cuba for the hijacking. Prosecutors requested 20 years, but recommended Potts be allowed to go free in as little as seven years given his Cuba jail time.

The Miami Herald reported that U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore heard “an emotional plea for mercy from Potts” and then “sided with the prosecution’s recommended sentence, which would allow Potts to seek parole in about seven years.”

Potts left Cuba and returned to Florida to face justice in November. He said he wanted to spend time with two daughters now living in Georgia. The Herald quoted him as telling the judge, nicknamed “Maximum Mike”:  “If you just give me a chance, judge, I’ll do you proud. I’m begging you, please, let me go back to my children.”

Potts’ wife, Aime Quesada, is in Cuba. Reacting to the judge’s sentence, she told Along the Malecón:  “What an injustice! This situation won’t be easy for him. He returned knowing what could happen only because he wanted to be with his daughters, to be able to watch them grow up, educate them and now he’s not even going to be able to do that.

Nevertheless, he has a strong spirit and I think if he has good conduct he will get out of there (jail), but it won’t be easy.

The Miami Herald reported: “In effect, Potts would be given credit for the 13 years he had already served in a Cuban prison, which was described as a “hell-hole” by his defense attorney. But under U.S. law, the judge could not legally give the 57-year-old American citizen that credit because Potts had served that time for being convicted of the hijacking offense in Cuba.”

Also on Thursday, Moore ruled that undisclosed classified information that prosecutors had filed in the case could remain sealed. He wrote: “The disclosure of the Classified Materials at this time would cause serious damage to the national security of the United States.”

4 thoughts on “Potts Gets 20-More Years for Cuba Hijacking

  • double standards… Anthony Bryant, a former Black Panther also hijacked a flight in 1969 to Cuba and spent 10 years in prison. He returned to the US in the 1980s and did not spend any time in prison. He had many Cuban friends in local and state influence the judge.

    Double standards

  • This goes against the principle of double jeapordy as someone shouldn’t be tried or sentenced for the same crime twice. It’s another example of the Alice in Wonderland policies regarding Cuba. They can’t recognise the Cuban sentence as that would recognize the administration. Recognizing the administration would be to admit that they got kicked out of Cuba and could do very little about it. So easier to act like Cuba doesn’t exist.

  • Now Potts is discovering the truth in the lyrics of Alan Price’s song, “Justice” (from Lindsay Anderson’s 1972 film, “O Lucky Man),” to wit:
    “We all want justice but you got to have the money to buy it
    You’d have to be a fool to close your eyes and deny it
    There’s a lot of poor people who are walking the streets of mytown
    Too blind to see that justice is used to do them right down.
    “All life from beginning to end
    You pay your monthly installments
    Next to health is wealth
    And only wealth will buy you justice
    “There’ll always be a fool who insists on taking his chances
    And that is the man who believes in true love romances
    He will trust and rely on the goodness of human nature
    Now a judge will tell you that’s a pathetic creature
    “All life from beginning to end
    You pay your monthly installments
    Next to health is wealth
    And only wealth will buy you justice
    “Money, justice
    Money, justice
    Money, justice.”

  • The mention of “undisclosed classified information” is intriguing. Usually, that would be used to protect the identity of an intelligence asset. Did the CIA have an asset in Cuba reporting on what Potts was up to? That seems like a waste of resources, watching a lone revolutionary wannabe rotting in a Cuban jail.

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