News and Press Releases

U.S. Citizen in Cuba Returns to the United States and is Arrested for 1984 Air Piracy Charge

November 6, 2013

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announce that defendant William Potts, Jr., a/k/a William Freeman, a/k/a Lieutenant Spartacus, was arrested by the FBI today at Miami International Airport on charges of air piracy.

Potts was indicted in the Southern District of Florida in 1985 after diverting a Piedmont Airlines passenger aircraft to Havana, Cuba as the aircraft was approaching Miami International Airport. According to court documents, Potts threatened to blow up the airplane and shoot passengers if the plane landed in Miami. The pilot diverted the aircraft and landed in Havana, Cuba. After the plane landed in Havana, Cuban authorities boarded and escorted Potts off of the plane. Potts remained in Cuba until his return to Miami on November 6, 2013. Potts is scheduled to make his initial appearance in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Alicia M. Otazo-Reyes on Thursday, November 7, 2013, at 2:00 p.m.

If convicted, Potts faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum term of life in prison.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and the assistance of the Diplomatic Security Service, Coast Guard, and the Transportation Security Administration in securing Potts’s return to the United States. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria K. Medetis.

An indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


Indictment (PDF)

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at or on

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