Ex-lawyer ordered to prison on terror conviction

AP News
Posted: Nov 18, 2009 7:00 PM

A disbarred lawyer convicted in a terrorism case should report to prison by Thursday after an appeals court upheld her conviction, a judge said Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge John G. Koeltl said 70-year-old Lynne Stewart should surrender by 5 p.m. Thursday to begin serving a two-year, four-month sentence for her 2005 conviction.

Koeltl had allowed her to remain free on $500,000 bail while she appealed her conviction.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the conviction on Tuesday and said she should begin serving her prison term while Koeltl follows its orders to consider whether her sentence might have been too lenient.

Stewart was convicted of charges that she let a Muslim extremist client communicate with followers while serving a life prison sentence for plotting with others to blow up New York City landmarks even though she had signed papers pledging that she would not allow him to do so.

Koeltl said the appeals court was clear in saying she should begin serving her sentence, but he gave her another day after her lawyers indicated they planned to ask the appeals court to reconsider its decision to order her immediate incarceration.

Stewart's lawyer did not immediately return a phone call for comment.

On Wednesday afternoon, Stewart sat in a park near the federal courthouse waiting for word from her lawyers as to whether she would have to immediately report to prison.

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She said she was hopeful that Koeltl would not increase her prison sentence when he follows the appeals court's instruction to rule whether he thought she committed perjury when she testified on her behalf at her trial.

"Anything that's more than 28 months would be monumental to me," said Stewart, who is scheduled to undergo surgery in early December.

"They say I might have committed perjury," she said. "I didn't."

She said she had been inundated with phone calls wishing her well since the appeals court ruling was released.