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Ohio Sedition Trial (7 ): 1989

The Underlying Crimes, Raising The Stakes, The Long Road To The Verdicts Begins, Expensive Acquittals And Mistrials

Defendants: Patricia Gros Levasseur, Raymond Luc Levasseur, Richard C. Williams
Crimes Charged: Seditious conspiracy to overthrow the government; racketeering; conspiracy to engage in racketeering
Chief Defense Lawyers: Peter Avenia, Robert Boyle, Elizabeth Fink, Kenneth J. King, William Newman
Chief Prosecutors: David Douglass, Michael K. Loucks
Judge: William G. Young
Place: Springfield, Massachusetts
Date of Trial: April 21, 1988-November 29, 1989
Verdict: All three acquitted of charge of seditious conspiracy; Patricia Levasseur also acquitted of racketeering; mistrial declared for racketeering for Raymond Levasseur and Richard Williams; mistrial declared for all three for conspiracy to engage in racketeering

SIGNIFICANCE: In what was up to that time the longest and most expensive trial in the history of Massachusetts, the federal government chose to try three individuals on what many observers regarded as problematic charges. And in fact, two of the three were already serving long sentences for the basic crimes behind these charges, while the third defendant was merely the wife of one of the others. When the trial ended with no convictions, it also turned out to be one of the most controversial—and highly criticized—trials in the history of Massachusetts.

Of the several underground-activist groups associated with the radicalization of various young Americans in the 1970s—such as the Symbionese Liberation Army and the Weathermen—one of the less publicized was the United Freedom Front (UFF), also referred to as the Sam Melville-Jonathan Jackson Brigade (SMJJ). Operating in the Northeast, led by Raymond Luc Levasseur and composed of a small circle of mainly working-class men and women, its announced targets were American corporations that continued to do business with South Africa, the American government's support for Latin American rightist dictatorships, and anyone it perceived as associated with racism and economic injustice in America.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1989 to 1994