Feds ask 11-14 years for Haddad

Defense attorney argues mental health treatment would be more effective

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By Bill Dwyer

Federal prosecutors have asked a judge to sentence convicted domestic terrorist Ronald Haddad Jr. to 135-168 months in prison.

In April, a jury found Haddad guilty on 30 felony counts related to threatening letters and packages containing unknown powders and amateurish explosive devices.

Haddad is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Virginia Kendall on Sept. 3.

In his sentencing brief, filed Aug. 20, prosecutor William Ridgeway argued that Haddad remains unrepentant and even combative with the court, despite having spent more than three years and eight months incarcerated while awaiting trial.

"Despite the jury's verdict, the defendant never has accepted responsibility for his threats or the fear he caused," Ridgeway said.

"Even after the charges in this case, and a significant amount of time in pretrial detention, the defendant's anger and threatening rhetoric has continued, which he has consistently directed to the parties in this case, previous attorneys, and this court.

"Plainly, the time in prison thus far has done little to change the defendant's behavior, suggesting that a serious sentence of imprisonment is needed for rehabilitation and to protect the public."

Haddad's defense attorney, Andrea Gambino, called the government's sentence range "draconian" and told Kendall that time served was an adequate sentence for her client.

Haddad, she argued, inflicted actual violence on no one, and both he and the public would be better served with him receiving needed mental health treatment instead of incarceration.

Gambino said numerous mental health evaluations of Haddad "support a finding that supervision and mental health treatment would be far more beneficial to Mr. Haddad, and to society, than warehousing him in a prison where any mental health problems are likely to be exacerbated rather than ameliorated."

Gambino noted that incarcerating Haddad for the minimum recommended sentence of 135 months would cost an estimated $325,664.55. That sentence, she argued, was "grossly disproportionate to sentence for others convicted of similar crimes as Haddad.

Ridgeway acknowledged Haddad's "history of mental health problems," but emphasized his "documented history of threatening violence." He also scoffed at the contention that Haddad's acts were not violent against his victims.

Haddad, he said, has a "track record that stretches back at least to November 1999, when the defendant posted threatening comments to a forum and encouraged readers to go to National Organization for Women offices and 'repeat columbine shooting.'"

Stressing the need for both punishment and protection of the public, Ridgeway said the fear Haddad's actions evoked was real and disruptive.

"The defendant spent over a year trying to undermine that system through his campaign of terror," he said. "He brazenly attacked public officials as a means of extorting action through fear."

In the meantime, Haddad has continued his practice of filing briefs with the court outside of his lawyer. On Aug. 20 he filed a pro se brief demanding that the indictment against him be dismissed. Haddad also accuses Gambino, his fifth defense attorney, of hiding important facts from him, an accusation he's made against all of his other four defense attorneys, among numerous other complaints.

On Aug. 22, Gambino filed an appeal of Haddad's conviction with the 7th District Appellate Court.

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