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Press Release

U.S. Citizen Sentenced To 20 Years In Prison In 1984 Hijacking Case

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Florida

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, announce that William Potts, Jr., a/k/a William Freeman, a/k/a Lieutenant Spartacus, 57, was sentenced today to 20 years in prison on charges of kidnapping. Potts is eligible for parole after he serves one third of his 20-year sentence.

On May 1, 2014, Potts pled guilty to a superseding information charging him with one count of kidnapping, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1201(a)(3) (1984).

In 1985, Potts was originally indicted in the Southern District of Florida with one count of air piracy, in violation of Title 49, United States Code, Section 1472(i) (1984), 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. Cuban authorities charged Potts for diverting the aircraft. Potts was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison in Cuba. Potts served approximately 13 years in Cuban custody. Potts remained in Cuba after his release from Cuban custody until his return to Miami on November 6, 2013.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI. Mr. Ferrer also thanked the Diplomatic Security Service, the Coast Guard, and the Transportation Security Administration for their assistance in this case. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria K. Medetis.

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

Updated March 12, 2015