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Ohio Sedition Trial (7 ): 1989

Raising The Stakes

By 1986, all seven individuals were behind bars when the U.S. government decided to indict them on the charges of seditious conspiracy to overthrow the government and also to have engaged in "racketeering." The first charge was based on a law from the Civil War era, designed specifically to round up Confederate loyalists in the North. The second charge was based on the socalled Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations statute, better known as the RICO statute and drawn up to deal with organized crime. It's not clear why the U.S. government chose to move ahead with this case, considering that the major defendants were already serving long sentences for the actions behind the alleged conspiracy and racketeering. The government appears to have been motivated essentially by the desire to send a warning signal to anyone who might consider underground violence on behalf of such causes.

Although the group would become known as the Ohio 7 because of where five had been arrested, the trial was scheduled to be held in Boston because of the Suffolk County Courthouse bombing. But because of extensive pretrial publicity in Boston, and the realization that security arrangements would greatly disrupt the federal court building there, the trial was relocated 100 miles to the west, to Springfield. Elaborate and expensive security arrangements were put into place there, including the preparations for a new courtroom.

Before the jury selection began in April 1988, the government decided to drop the charges against two defendants, Thomas Manning and Jaan Karl Laaman. Manning was already serving a life sentence without parole and Laaman was serving at least 40 years for their earlier convictions. The government admitted this would help to "simplify" what promised to be a very long trial. The government also decided to hold a separate trial for Barbara Curzi Laaman when a federal court ruled that the evidence seized in the raid of her home was illegal. Then Carol Manning, wife of Thomas, accepted a plea bargain that added a fine to the 15 years she was already serving. In March 1988, Patricia Levasseur was released on parole, having completed 3 and one-half years in prison, but she now faced as many as 60 years along with her codefendants, Raymond Luc Levasseur and Richard Williams.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1989 to 1994Ohio Sedition Trial (7 ): 1989 - The Underlying Crimes, Raising The Stakes, The Long Road To The Verdicts Begins, Expensive Acquittals And Mistrials