Guy Philippe won’t be getting out of the U.S. prison system anytime soon.
The convicted money launderer and elected Haitian senator — who was also at various times a law student, a police commander, a coup leader and a fugitive in an international drug trafficking case — has lost another bid for freedom in a Miami federal court.
A federal judge last week dismissed Philippe’s appeal of his nine-year sentence, concluding his claims that his defense attorneys were “ineffective” and “working for both sides” weren’t credible.
Philippe pleaded guilty to a money laundering conspiracy in April 2017 and was sentenced to nine years in prison that June.
The original indictment, which had been filed in Miami in 2005 but remained in limbo until his arrest in Haiti two years ago, accused him and others in the Haiti National Police of accepting bribes from cocaine traffickers in exchange for protecting their shipments from Colombia to Haiti to the United States.
In her ruling, Altonaga said she questioned the “college-educated” Philippe about the plea deal in court and that she “received his confirmation he was satisfied with the representation his counsel had provided him.” Altonaga based her decision on a recommendation by Magistrate Judge Patrick White, who had previously conducted a full hearing on Philippe’s motion.
While Philippe, unsuccessfully argued that his defense attorneys provided “ineffective assistance of counsel,” he is not giving up his fight for freedom. His lawyer told the Miami Herald Friday that he will challenge Altonaga’s ruling with the federal appeals court in Atlanta.
“I spoke with Guy this morning and he said he does want to proceed in that fashion,” lawyer Philip Pitzer said.
Despite his international arrest warrant, Philippe has for years fashioned himself as a nationalist whose rights were violated when he was put on a plane to Miami following his Jan. 5, 2017, arrest outside a Port-au-Prince radio station. He lobbied Haitian senators from behind bars, and they passed a resolution condemning the arrest. Before he pleaded guilty, he also professed his innocence in a three-minute recording that went viral on the WhatsApp messaging service.
“They have absolutely no proof that I am involved in drugs,” Philippe, proclaimed in Creole from his jail cell. Continue reading