Fil-Am terror suspect, others plead not guilty

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Ralph De Leon’s lawyer Randy PHOTO/Isidric Panganiban

RIVERSIDE, California—A 23-year-old Filipino-American and two other men pleaded not guilty to terror-related charges yesterday (Thursday in Manila) at their arraignment in federal court here.

Ralph de Leon was escorted by US marshals to the courtroom in shackles and wearing an orange jail uniform. He was seated with the other defendants, Arifeen Gojali, 21, and Miguel Santana Vidriales, 23, on one side of the courtroom.

De Leon’s father, stepmother, sister and other relatives sat on the opposite side with representatives from the Philippine consulate and members of the media.

De Leon’s father declined to be interviewed, but asked about his son’s “not guilty” plea, he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, “Of course he is innocent.”

“I find him to be a very intelligent, nice young man,” said De Leon’s lawyer, Randy Driggs. “He has a nice family which is very supportive of him.”

De Leon of Ontario, Gojali of Riverside and Vidriales of Upland were indicted for allegedly plotting to kill US soldiers overseas and providing material support to terrorists. If convicted, they each face up to 15 years in prison.

They were alleged to have conspired with American Sohiel Omar Kabir, 34, of Pomona to kill Americans and bomb US military bases overseas.

Kabir, who was arrested in Afghanistan, has been brought back to the United States and made his court appearance on Tuesday, his lawyer, deputy federal public defender Jeffrey Aaron, told reporters. Held without bail, Kabir has a court appearance on Dec. 11.

Federal Bureau of Investigation agents arrested De Leon, Vidriales and Gojali in the US during a traffic stop two days before they were to board a plane for Istanbul on their way to Afghanistan.

Driggs told reporters he was waiting to get all the evidence against his client, a process that could “take a few weeks at best.”

“It’s going to take a long time (because) of the large amounts of discovery,” Driggs said. “I will make the appropriate legal motions after we look at the  evidence.”

“There are recordings; I don’t know how many there are. In the normal course, there will be requests and hopefully they will be provided all of the work that this confidential source had done. They’ve indicated that (it was) four and a half years of work,” he said.

Federal Magistrate Judge Oswald Parada set the start of the jury trial on Jan. 22. The case was assigned to Judge Virginia Phillips.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/Datusuki Borja Onying

    Why are you calling this Deleon Fil-Am, when he is not even a US subject. He is only a green card holder, so he is a Filipino.

  • mon key

    basta pinoy na nakapunta sa ‘tates fil-am kaagad tawag nila. blema nasa canada ang ontario. so bakit fil-am, dabat fil-can. eengot eengot!

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/NLO2AAP3EKVA2H3FI2AM2KTGAA Jay

      Tiga Ontario,California yun Pinoy suspect hindi Ontario,Canada..

      • mon key

        i stand corrected :D

    • Shedgumboy

      Not Ontario Canada.. It’s Ontario City in California. 45 minutes drive from
      Long Beach Ca, or from Lakewood Ca…  Ontario Ca. can be reach by driving to Interstate
      Freeway 10..

  • DakuAkongUtin

    Dios Ko Santisima, pumasok at sumasama na ang mga kayumangmangs sa mga trabahong terorista. Dios ko Santisima, hindi rin madale…..

    • kanoy

       Haha if holy god came and sat with these terrorists then according to catholic rhetoric, this would make god a muslim lol

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