ALEXANDRIA, La. – United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced that a federal jury found an Ethiopian national guilty Wednesday of refusing to leave the country twice after being ordered to depart.
Henok Dejene Retta, 30, of Ethiopia, was found guilty of two counts of failure to depart. United States District Judge Dee D. Drell presided over the trial. The defendant’s trial started Tuesday and ended Wednesday with the jury returning the guilty verdict after deliberating for 45 minutes. Evidence admitted at trial revealed that on two occasions U.S. Immigration Enforcement Agents attempted to remove Retta from the country via the Alexandria International Airport by putting him on a commercial flight. The defendant hampered agents’ ability to remove him by verbally and physically resisting agents on November 19, 2013. The defendant also hampered attempts to put him on a commercial flight at the airport on January 7, 2014, when he told those present that he had terrorist ties in Africa and would have the plane attacked should he be put on the plane. These incidents prevented him from boarding the flights because of airline and Transportation Security Administration safety policies.
Retta faces four years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine for each count. Sentencing has been set for October 13, 2015.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement - Enforcement and Removal Operations conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert F. Moore and Howard C. Parker are prosecuting the case.