Prosecutors Working On Plea Deal For Wrigleyville Bomb Suspect
Updated 12/20/11 – 9:39 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — A plea deal was in the works on Tuesday for a man accused of trying to set off a bomb near Wrigley Field on the night of a Dave Matthews Band concert last year.
As CBS 2’s Mai Martinez reports, Sami Samir Hassoun was arrested in September 2010 on allegations he planned to detonate a bomb in Wrigleyville. He originally pleaded not guilty, but has been working on a plea agreement with federal prosecutors.
A federal judge has agreed to strike Hassoun’s trial date as prosecutors and defense attorneys hammer out a plea deal. Hassoun is now scheduled to enter his guilty plea on Feb. 14. Details of the plea agreement likely will not be made public until then.
“Now he could get less time. Under federal sentencing guidelines, if you admit your guilt, if you accept responsibility, you get less time,” CBS 2 Legal Analyst Irv Miller said.
As CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman reports, a conviction on just one charge of trying to use a weapon of mass destruction could carry a life sentence.
Hassoun is accused of plotting to place a bomb in a trash can outside Sluggers Sports Bar in the 3500 block of North Clark Street in Wrigleyville, to create a massive explosion.
At the time, Robert Grant, special agent in charge of Chicago’s FBI office, said, “His attempt was to kill as many people as he could.”
According to a criminal complaint, the FBI was tipped off by a source that Hassoun, a Lebanese citizen living in Chicago, wanted to commit acts of violence against the city and its residents.
“He had previously recorded various locations in Chicago, things he thought would be appropriate places to attack,” Grant said.
Federal prosecutors have said Hassoun settled on the Wrigleyville plot only after talking about assassinating then Mayor Richard M. Daley, bombing the Willis Tower and poisoning the water supply from Lake Michigan.
The FBI said Hassoun wanted to detonate a bomb near Wrigley Field on the weekend of a Dave Matthews Band concert, when the streets would be crowded with people at nearby bars and restaurants.
On Sept. 18, 2010, undercover agents supplied Hassoun with what he believed to be a bomb inside a backpack and then watched and listened as Hassoun drove to Wrigleyville, arriving just after midnight.
“The plan was to drop him off; drop the explosive device there and then leave the scene before the explosion,” Grant said at the time of Hassoun’s arrest.
But Hassoun was arrested minutes after making that drop, and has been behind bars ever since.