FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
For Information Contact:
North Carolina Man Sentenced to 21-Month Prison Term
For Assaulting Ambassador at Gabonese Embassy
- Defendant Was Arrested After Demonstration Turned Violent -
WASHINGTON - Leon Obame, 45, of Raleigh, N.C., was sentenced today to 21 months in prison for assaulting the ambassador of Gabon during a demonstration in December 2011 at the Gabonese Embassy, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced.
Obame was found guilty by a jury in October 2012 of one count of assaulting a foreign official. The verdict followed a trial in the U.S District Court for the District of Columbia. He was sentenced by the Honorable Senior Judge Gladys Kessler.
In addition to the assault charge, Obame was charged with arson and damage to property occupied by a foreign government for a pair of fires in 2009 at the embassy. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on those charges, and the government has dismissed those counts.
The assault took place on Dec. 9, 2011 at the embassy’s temporary location, in the 1600 block of Connecticut Avenue NW. That morning, according to the government’s evidence, Obame punched the ambassador, knocking him to the ground.
Obame had been in custody since his arrest at the demonstration at the Gabonese Embassy, but he was released after the jury verdict last fall. He is to receive credit for the time that he already has served and now must report back to serve the rest of the 21 months. Following completion of his prison term, he will be placed on a year of supervised release.
In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Machen commended the efforts of those who investigated the case from the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department, the Washington Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Secret Service, and the Diplomatic Security Service. He also acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialists Selena Zuhoski, Devron Elliott, and Elizabeth Barns, Legal Assistant Donice Adams, and Litigation Technology Specialist Thomas Royal. Finally, he thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Frederick W. Yette and T. Patrick Martin, who prosecuted the case.