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Two Haitians Sentenced to Long Prison Terms for Plot to Take Hostage a Five-Year-Old American Boy in Haiti

WASHINGTON - Two Haitian men were sentenced today for the hostage-taking in Haiti in the fall of 2005 of a five-year-old boy who was a U.S. citizen, announced U.S. Attorney Jeffrey A. Taylor, Assistant Attorney General Kenneth L. Wainstein, National Security Division, U.S. Department of Justice, and Jonathan I. Solomon, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Miami Field Office.

Widmay Dorvilier, 27, and Jerome Joseph, also known as James Pierre, 25, both, formerly of Port au Prince, Haiti, were sentenced today before the Honorable Colleen Kollar-Kotelly in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. to terms of 254 months (21 years and 2 months) and 239 months (19 years and 11 months), respectively, for hostage-taking and related weapons offenses. Widmay Dorvilier pleaded guilty back on March 22, 2006 to hostage taking and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence. Jerome Joseph pleaded guilty on March 9, 2006 to hostage taking. A third conspirator, Fanel Joseph, pleaded guilty to hostage taking on March 9, 2007 and is scheduled to be sentenced on January 31, 2007. The little American boy had been living with his family in the area of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

U.S. Attorney Taylor stated, “the kidnapping of a young child is every parent’s worst nightmare. As this case demonstrates, we will do everything in our power to bring kidnappers from foreign lands to American courts to have them face justice for victimizing our children.”

The nightmare began for the little boy at about 5 p.m. on October 11, 2005, just as the father and son were leaving the father’s place of employment. Dorvilier, Jerome Joseph and another hostage-taker, armed with loaded 9 mm handguns, approached the father’s car and carjacked them. A short distance down the road, the father was thrown out of the vehicle and the five-year-old boy was taken and held for ransom, with demands starting at $300,000 in U.S. dollars. The hostage-takers repeatedly threatened to maim and kill the boy if the ransom was not paid, threatening to cut the boy into pieces and return him to the father in a bag. Dorvilier was the ringleader and Jerome Joseph played a substantial role, while conspirator Fanel Joseph’s role in the scheme was to hide the boy at his house while the others made efforts to extort the maximum amount of ransom. A partial ransom was paid. After the boy had been held for three days, persons in the area where the boy was being held became aware of his circumstances and alerted police. The child was rescued on October 14, 2005. The authorities subsequently apprehended Jerome Joseph, armed with the same 9mm gun he had used to take the little boy hostage, and later caught Widmay Dorvilier and Fanel Joseph (who is not related to Jerome Joseph, Joseph being a common surname in Haiti).

In announcing the sentences in the Widmay Dorvilier and Jerome Joseph cases, U.S. Attorney Taylor, Assistant Attorney General Fisher, and Special Agent in Charge Solomon praised the hard work of the FBI’s Extraterritorial Squad, in particular lead case agents Christopher Carbonneau and William Clauss, the FBI Evidence Response Team, and the FBI Miami Special Weapons and Tactics Squad, all based in Miami, FBI Legal Attache Andrew Diaz and ALAT Joseph Jeziorski based in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, the Haitian National Police and the United Nations Civil Police, the Haitian Ministry of Justice, the ICE Office in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and the staff of the U.S. Embassy in Port au Prince, Haiti. Furthermore, they acknowledged the efforts of victim witness advocate Veronica Vaughan of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and victim specialist Dahlia Williams of the FBI Miami Division, and praised Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeanne M. Hauch and Trial Attorney Thomas P. Swanton of the Counterterrorism Section of the National Security Division of the Department of Justice, who prosecuted the case.