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USF explosives defendant hires Al-Arian lawyer
By KEVIN GRAHAM, Times Staff Writer
Published February 8, 2008
[Ken Helle | Times (2007)]
In court records filed Thursday, Linda Moreno announced her appearance as Mohamed's new lawyer. She has also defended Sami Al-Arian and Wesley Snipes.
TAMPA - A suspended University of South Florida student facing federal explosives charges has hired the attorney who defended Sami Al-Arian and Wesley Snipes.
Ahmed Mohamed told a federal judge last month that he wanted to hire Linda Moreno when he publicly aired his displeasure with John Fitzgibbons, his attorney at the time.
Mohamed, 26, charged with illegally transporting explosive materials and teaching how to make an explosive device, accused Fitzgibbons of forcing him to plead guilty. Fitzgibbons denied Mohamed's accusations and asked to be removed from the case. A judge granted his request.
The court appointed Clearwater attorney Bruce Howie to represent Mohamed.
In court records filed Thursday, Moreno announced her appearance as Mohamed's new lawyer. Tampa attorney Lyann Goudie will work with Moreno as co-counsel.
Moreno has developed a reputation for representing defendants in terrorism cases, though neither Mohamed nor co-defendant Youssef Megahed, 21, who is represented by the Federal Public Defender's Office, face terrorism charges.
At Al-Arian's 2005 trial, jurors acquitted him or deadlocked on all charges of conspiracy to support terrorism. He later pleaded guilty to helping associates of a terrorist group with nonviolent activities and received a 57-month sentence.
Last year, Moreno took on another terrorism trial when she represented Ghassan Elashi, former chairman of the board for the Holy Land Foundation. In what was called the biggest terrorism-financing trial since the 9/11 attacks, prosecutors accused Elashi of funneling $12-million to Palestinian groups in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that they said were fronts for the terrorist group Hamas.
A Dallas judge declared a mistrial in October after jurors failed to reach a verdict.
Just last week, Moreno and a team of attorneys won acquittals for Snipes on charges that the actor tried to defraud the Internal Revenue Service. An Ocala federal jury convicted the Blade trilogy star of three misdemeanor counts for failure to file taxes. He faces a maximum of three years in prison. If convicted on all charges against him, Snipes would have faced as much as 16 years in prison.