A Miami federal judge sentenced a Cuban–born sympathizer of the terror group ISIS to 10 years in prison Monday.
“A more severe sentence is needed to protect the public,” U.S. District Court Judge Joan Lenard said during a lengthy statement explaining why she imposed the maximum sentence listed in the indictment, instead of showing leniency as the defense requested.
The sentence closed a chapter in a case that drew international attention when it first emerged in federal court records in April. The allegations in an FBI criminal complaint caused a sensation because the informant related that the suspect spoke of smuggling a rifle into a stadium and shooting people to create chaos in the city.
Miguel Morán Díaz, 45, pleaded guilty May 27 to charges of possessing firearms despite being a convicted felon. Morán was previously sentenced to 46 months in the federal penitentiary in 2005 in a cocaine case. The indictment made no mention of his sympathies for ISIS, but the criminal complaint filed in the case by an FBI agent said Díaz spoke to an informant of his desire of becoming a “lone wolf” for the terror group that controls parts of Syria and Iraq and which has inspired hundreds of foreigners in several countries to join its ranks or express sympathy for it.
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Toward the end of the hour-long sentencing hearing in Miami federal court, Diáz’s attorney, federal public defender Daniel Ecarius, told Lenard that his client made reference to ISIS simply “as conversation” and that in some instances he “was encouraged by the informant” to make those references.
Díaz, who appeared in court in a khaki detainee uniform, his ankles shackled, spoke briefly at his sentencing.
“I want to apologize to the community,” he said in a low voice. “I guarantee that it won’t happen again.”
Lenard was not mollified. She said Díaz needed a harsh punishment because his previous sentence of 46 months over the cocaine conviction “had not deterred him” from committing other crimes.
Díaz was also sentenced to an additional three years of supervised release. At the end of his sentence, Lenard said, Díaz must surrender to U.S. immigration authorities for deportation proceedings.
The one-time Uber driver and former construction worker came from Cuba about 20 years ago. Lenard said Díaz’s criminal record stretched back to 1994, when he was arrested for petty larceny.
Court documents say Díaz lived with his girlfriend in an apartment in Miami, but she did not appear in court. The documents said his mother lives in Cuba.