Quebec City mosque shooter Alexandre Bissonnette sentenced to life in prison, no parole for 40 years


Alexandre Bissonnette, the man responsible for the 2017 Quebec City mosque shooting, has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 40 years.

READ MORE: Quebec Muslim community welcomes statement by accused shooter’s parents

Bissonnette pleaded guilty last March to six counts of first-degree murder and six counts of attempted murder in the attack at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec.

Quebec Superior Court Justice François Huot chose not to give him consecutive sentences, where he would have been eligible for release in 150 years.

The judge said Friday he took all 24 past decisions of consecutive sentencing — Section 745.51 of the Criminal Code, which was added in 2011 — into account before rendering his decision.

WATCH BELOW: A timeline of the deadly Quebec City mosque shooting.

Huot concluded demanding consecutive sentences was “constitutionally invalid” and is calling for the federal government to reform the law.

Bissonnette also faces a lifetime ban on owning firearms.

Friday morning, Bissonnette entered the Quebec City courtroom, wearing a dark blue suit with a white dress shirt.

WATCH BELOW: Alexandre Bissonnette arrives for sentencing in Quebec City mosque shooting

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Before giving his sentence, Huot warned the room of about 250 people to be respectful of the decision, noting that no protest will be tolerated.

READ MORE: Judge tells Quebec mosque shooting victims not to blame killer’s parents

“[It was] a premeditated and gratuitous act,” he told the court, adding that it was “a tear of our social fabric.”

“Despite the time passed, it will remain forever engraved in our collective memory.”

Huot noted Bissonnette was not working in January 2017 because of an anxiety disorder. Doctors had prescribed him Paxil.

The judge summarized Bissonnette’s internet search history, which included looking up the 2015 San Bernardino attack, information on how to prepare his guns and research on other possible targets — including feminist groups, schools, malls and airports.

He mentioned an incident two months before the mosque attack when Bissonnette loaded his weapons and went to a local mall in Quebec City intending to commit mass murder, but changed his mind.

READ MORE: Inside the mind of a killer: What we now know about Alexandre Bissonnette’s Quebec mosque shooting plot

Huot spoke of the night itself, when Bissonnette walked into a mosque in the provincial capital at 7:54 p.m. on Jan. 29, 2017, and opened fire during evening prayers.

WATCH BELOW: Alexandre Bissonnette parents arrive ahead of sentencing

Citing security footage, Huot mentioned “a small girl with a pink hat runs without knowing where to hide,” until someone pulls her to safety. There were four children in the mosque that night.

READ MORE: After nearly two years of fighting, Quebec City Mosque shooting widow will get compensation

He noted Bissonnette acted with “calculation, determination and in cold blood,” adding he held racist beliefs and the crime was precipitated by a “visceral hate for immigrants.”

The entire massacre was 90 seconds. There were 48 shots fired in that time.

READ MORE: Quebec City mosque shooting: Remembering the victims and moving on 2 years later

As the judge talked, Bissonnette stared down at the ground, moving only occasionally to fidget or look briefly up at the ceiling.

WATCH BELOW: Victims of Quebec City mosque shooting ‘accept’ guilty plea from gunman

READ MORE: Defence argues 150 years in prison for Quebec mosque shooter would deprive him of hope

According to the numerous victim testimonies, many of the people there that night are still traumatized, live in fear, and some are unable to work because of the terror they feel.

The victims of the 2017 Quebec City mosque shooting arrive to sentencing, Fri., Feb. 8, 2019.

Jean-Vincent Verville/Global News

Bissonnette’s trial was expected to be a landmark case, forcing Huot to declare last October that he needed more time to decide between sentencing him consecutively (150 years) or concurrently (25 years).

READ MORE: Defence argues 150 years in prison for Quebec mosque shooter would deprive him of hope

Bissonnette’s defence team had previously stated consecutive sentencing should be declared unconstitutional and invalid as it contravenes Article 12 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which protects citizens from cruel and unusual treatment.

“It (Section 745.51) denies outright the possibility of humanity for a person,” he told Huot last summer.

“Without hope, what is the meaning of a life? There isn’t any.”

The mosque shooting claimed the lives of six men: Mamadou Tanou Barry, 42; Abdelkrim Hassane, 41; Khaled Belkacemi, 60; Aboubaker Thabti, 44; Azzeddine Soufiane, 57 and Ibrahima Barry, 39.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Quand les algorithmes influencent les peines de prison


Devant composer avec l’impératif de réduire le nombre de prisonniers sans augmenter le taux de criminalité, le système judiciaire américain se tourne de plus en plus vers des outils technologiques pour tenter d’améliorer son efficacité.

Après les algorithmes prédicteurs de crimes pour les policiers, voilà maintenant que l’intelligence artificielle prétend pouvoir accorder un pointage aux accusés en cour. Ce pointage, obtenu en colligeant des données sur le profil de la personne et des données historiques, permettrait de connaître le risque que poserait l’accusé s’il était remis en liberté.

Il revient ensuite au juge de tenir compte ou non de ce pointage dans ses décisions : choix des services de redressement, emprisonnement ou non pendant le procès, sévérité de la peine, etc.

Les personnes en faveur de l’utilisation de l’intelligence artificielle par les tribunaux estiment que les algorithmes pourraient réduire, voire éliminer la partialité des juges en basant les décisions uniquement sur des données.

Des algorithmes biaisés, dénoncent des opposants

Mais c’est justement la question de la partialité qui dérange les opposants à cette technologie. Ceux-ci croient plutôt que ces algorithmes sont intrinsèquement biaisés, puisqu’ils se basent sur des données historiques pour effectuer certaines prédictions.

Les outils de ce genre tentent de trouver des corrélations dans de grandes quantités de données. Comme les communautés à faible revenu et les minorités ont historiquement été davantage ciblées par les forces de l’ordre, les outils d’intelligence artificielle ont plus de chances de conclure qu’une personne issue de ces communautés pose un risque pour la société, explique le MIT Technology Review.

Or, la corrélation entre deux catégories de données ne signifie pas qu’il y a un lien de cause à effet. En basant leurs conclusions sur des données biaisées, les algorithmes auraient donc tendance à amplifier ces biais, alimentant un cercle vicieux qui pénaliserait les communautés judiciarisées.

Malgré l’appel, en juillet (Nouvelle fenêtre), de l’American Civil Liberties Union et de la National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, des organismes américains de défense des libertés civiles, à tourner le dos à cette technologie, de plus en plus d’États commencent à s’en servir, espérant réduire le taux d’occupation de leurs prisons.


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10-year-old Calgary boy asks Santa to free friends’ dad from Turkish prison


A Calgary mom is forwarding her son’s heartbreaking letter to Santa along to Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as they might have more sway than Saint Nick in fulfilling her child’s request.

Ten-year-old Douglas Hsu’s letter didn’t focus on the gifts he wants for Christmas. Instead, he asked that the father of two of his friends be released from a Turkish prison.

He used to be classmates with Vedat and Cemil Hanci. The Hanci boys moved to Ontario in 2016, after their father, Calgarian Imam Davud Hanci was detained in Turkey.

Douglas Hsu, 10, said all he wants for Christmas is for Davud Hanci to be reunited with his family. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

He has since been sentenced to 15 years in Turkish prison on allegations he was connected to an attempted coup. Relatives say he was visiting his sick father at the time and was not involved.

The two families have stayed close, and when Douglas started drafting his letter to Santa, his mom Lindsay Connick said he had only one thing on his mind and couldn’t be swayed.

‘I’d like him to free our friend’

« He just said ‘mom, you know what, Santa’s a super magical guy.’ And he said ‘since he’s magical, you know what I’d like to ask for, for Christmas this year?' » Connick said. « And I said, ‘what’s that Douglas?’ And he said ‘I’d like him to free our friend Davud.’ And I was just taken aback and didn’t know how to respond right away. »

Connick said she told him it was a big ask and very noble.

« Dear Santa, Thank you so much for caring for the world’s families, » Douglas wrote.

« This year, my friend’s dad was sentenced to 15 years in jail after the two years he’s been in this cold Turkish prison. I wondered if you could help me free him …That’s really all I want, I wouldn’t like anything else. »

Lindsay Connick and her son Douglas Hsu, pictured with Rumeysa Hanci and her sons this summer in Toronto. (Submitted by Lindsay Connick)

Douglas said it made him sad that his friends weren’t going to have their dad with them for the holidays.

« I feel kinda sad that he’s in there ’cause he wouldn’t be with his family for Christmas, and then their family wouldn’t be together for a long time, » he told CBC News.

Connick sent her son’s letter to Freeland, Trudeau and local MP Len Webber, along with a letter of her own last week. She said she hasn’t heard back yet.

« My initial response was this was a big ask and Santa’s going to need some help, » Connick said.

It was so touching for me and I couldn’t hold my tears, and we cried on the phone for a long time.– Rumeysa Hanci , Davud Hanci’s wife

She said she’s hoping government officials take the 10-year-old’s request to heart.

« One of the most important life lessons I feel we can all strive for is to be good to others, » she said.

Connick called Davud’s wife, Rumeysa, to tell her about Douglas’ letter.

« When she told me about Douglas’ letter to Santa, it was so touching for me and I couldn’t hold my tears and we cried on the phone for a long time, » Rumeysa said.

« He has such a warm heart and he has compassion. »

Rumeysa said it has been nearly two-and-a-half years since she and her sons have been separated from Davud.

« I try to be strong for my kids, you know, I am a mom, » she said, her voice breaking.

« We miss him so much. »

She said her husband is being held in solitary confinement. She asked her fellow Canadians to think of him and put themselves in his shoes.

Rumeysa Hanci, wife of Calgary imam Davud Hanci, who is imprisoned in Turkey, said her husband is being kept in solitary confinement. (Larry MacDougal/Canadian Press)

In July 2016, more than 75,000 people were arrested in Turkey in a crackdown following an attempted coup against the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. A state of emergency was instituted in the country that ended this July.

Hanci and many of those arrested were accused of having ties to Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based cleric who was blamed for the attempted government overthrow. Family members have said Hanci has no connections to Gulen.

Before his arrest, he had been living with his wife and children in Calgary, working as an imam for Correctional Service Canada and the Alberta correctional services.

‘I try to keep my hope alive’

Rumeysa said she’s allowed to talk to her husband on the phone for 10 minutes each week at midnight because of the time difference.

« I am losing my hope of course … nothing has changed. But I try to keep my hope alive, » she said.

« I wish for the Canadian government to do something for him to be released. »

Calgarian Davud Hanci was sentenced to 15 years in a Turkish prison on what his family says are false charges. (Selman Durmus)

Brendan Sutton, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada, said consular officials are providing assistance to Hanci and his family and remain in contact with local authorities, but due to the Privacy Act further details cannot be released.

« We know how hard it is for family and friends when a Canadian is detained outside of the country, » Sutton said.


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Quebec man sentenced to 8 years, 5 months in Australian prison for smuggling cocaine


A Quebec man has been sentenced to eight years and five months in prison for his involvement in an international drug smuggling operation, after he was arrested in 2016 along with two young Quebec women posing as travellers.

André Tamine, 65, was convicted Monday for bringing several suitcases of cocaine into Australia on a luxury cruise ship.

Judge Catherine Traill of the Australian District Court of New South Wales revealed that Tamine had been offered €100,000, about CAN $150,000, to participate in the smuggling.

He was arrested on that ship, the MS Sea Princess, after being found with over 65 kilograms of cocaine once the ship had docked in Sydney in August of 2016.

Tamine was arrested along with fellow Quebecers Mélina Roberge and Isabelle Lagacé, two young women who made headlines around the world for posing as travellers on a luxury cruise, when in reality they were involved in an international drug-smuggling operation.

Their Instagram posts from the cruise are riddled with likes on selfies taken around the world. 

The two women, now respectively 25 and 30, shared a cabin on the cruise ship.

Mélina Roberge and Isabelle Lagacé made headlines around the world after the arrests. (Instagram)

The operation ended in Australia with the seizure of nearly 100 kilograms of cocaine, one of the country’s largest drug busts. 

It’s estimated that much cocaine would have sold for $60 million Cdn on the Australian black market.

All three of them pleaded guilty. Lagacé was sentenced to seven years in prison, and Roberge was sentenced to eight years.

Roberge told the court in April that she went on the trip so she could get attention on social media, a fact Judge Traill referred to as « sad indictment » on people her age.

« It is sad they seek to attain such a vacuous existence where how many likes they receive is their currency, » Traill said at the time. 

‘I know what I did was wrong’

Tamine is the last of the three to be sentenced. Sniffer dogs found 30 kilograms of cocaine in the women’s cabin, and 65 kilograms in Tamine’s cabin.

The drugs in Tamine’s cabin had a CAD $23 to $29 million street value, the judge said.

In his letter to the court, Tamine said he was embarrassed and humiliated.

« I stupidly did as others told me to do, rather than stand up for myself, » he said. « I know what I did was wrong. »

« The entire experience has been frightening, » Tamine said. « I was a visitor in this great country and my actions do not reflect my respect for it. » 

The offender speaks little English and finds life in prison difficult, the judge said.

He will have to serve at least five years in a Sydney detention centre before being eligible for parole in March 2022.


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Child killer Terri-Lynne McClintic transferred from healing lodge to Edmonton prison


Child killer Terri-Lynne McClintic has been transferred from an Indigenous healing lodge to an Edmonton prison for women.​

McClintic, who is serving a life sentence for the brutal rape and murder of Tori Stafford, 8, of Woodstock, Ont., was transferred from the Grand Valley Institution for Women near Kitchener, Ont., to the Okima Ohci Healing Lodge for Aboriginal Women on Nekaneet First Nation in southern Saskatchewan.

McClintic’s transfer back to a conventional prison was confirmed to CBC News by Tori’s father, Rodney Stafford.

He posted a message on Facebook praising the development.

The transfer to the lodge sparked public outrage, protests and divisive political debate.

McClintic is not eligible for parole until 2031.

On Wednesday, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale ordered Correctional Service Canada to improve policies related to transfers of « medium-security women offenders to facilities that do not have a directly controlled perimeter. »

More to come


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Court pushes appeal of Hassan Diab’s release from French prison to next year


The French court of appeal will not rule Friday in the case of Hassan Diab, the Canadian academic who French authorities suspect had involvement in the 1980 bombing outside a Paris synagogue.

A formal hearing was planned at a Paris courthouse today over whether the court would uphold a decision that released Diab from jail and sent him home to Canada. But no hearing occurred.

Instead, Diab’s defence team told reporters the court will assign a new investigating judge to the case.

Lawyer Aurélie Lefebvre explained further review is needed in relation to handwriting analysis presented as evidence. She said evidence must be reviewed by Feb. 15 next year.

Diab’s French defence team now expects the case could be wrapped up by next summer. 

« It is of course a new setback because we were expecting the decision today, » Lefebvre said. « However, we remain confident. We have to consider the court has a doubt. »

Never formally charged

Diab, a 64-year-old Ottawa university lecturer, was accused by authorities in the attack, which killed four people and injured more than 40.

Diab has consistently maintained his innocence. He was released in January after two French judges ruled the evidence against him wasn’t strong enough to take to trial. He was never formally charged.

Diab was arrested by RCMP in November 2008 and placed under strict bail conditions until he was extradited to France in 2014. Diab spent more than three years in prison in France before the case against him collapsed.

If France wins its appeal, it could seek to extradite Diab a second time, or try him in absentia.

The appeal was supposed to be resolved in July, but France’s Court of Appeal put off releasing its decision until Friday due to the sudden appearance of new evidence from Greek authorities that needed to be translated and reviewed.

That evidence proved to be of little value and was dealt with during a three-minute hearing in September.

Back in June, CBC News confirmed that France was aware of — and failed to disclose — fingerprint evidence that ultimately helped to clear Diab.

French officials did not share fingerprint comparison evidence in their possession with their Canadian counterparts. In fact, court documents showed French prosecutors denied the evidence even existed.

‘A weak case’

Diab’s case has raised troubling questions about the standard of evidence required by Canadian law for extradition.

Robert Maranger, the Ontario Superior Court judge who ordered Diab’s extradition in 2011, wrote in his decision that France had presented « a weak case; the prospects of conviction in the context of a fair trial seem unlikely. »

Maranger ordered Diab’s extradition on the strength of handwriting analysis that allegedly linked him to the bomber. It was said to be the only piece of physical evidence linking Diab to the attack.

But in their January order, obtained by CBC News, French investigative judges dismissed that evidence as unreliable.

Another key factor in Diab’s release was the high probability that he wasn’t even in Paris on the day of the bombing. Using university records and interviews with Diab’s classmates, the investigative judges determined he was « probably in Lebanon » writing exams when the Rue Copernic attack happened.

« It is likely that Hassan Diab was in Lebanon during September and October 1980 … and it is therefore unlikely that he is the man … who then laid the bomb on Rue Copernic on October 3rd, 1980, » they wrote.

Diab boycotting review

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould has asked the former deputy attorney general of Ontario, Murray Segal, to conduct an external review of Diab’s extradition.

Through his laywer Donald Bayne, Diab announced that he would boycott that review, arguing its scope is too narrow and it appears to be nothing more than a « concerted damage-control effort. »

Segal will be asked to assess whether Canadian Department of Justice officials followed the law and departmental procedures while conducting the extradition.

He also will look at whether government lawyers who handle extradition cases need to change their approach, and whether Canada needs to address specific issues with France over that country’s treatment of Diab.

But Segal isn’t being tasked with a review of Canada’s extradition laws themselves — something Diab and his supporters have demanded. Segal’s authority also falls short of the judge-led public inquiry requested by Diab, rights groups such as Amnesty International and some politicians.

« This is so fundamentally wrong and disappointing, » said Bayne. « As fine a fellow as Murray Segal is, he is not an independent judge. He’s a career prosecutor. »

Bayne said the external review will not allow for a cross-examination of Justice Department officials in the way a public inquiry would.

« Where is Hassan Diab’s right to challenge what they did to him? Only a public inquiry can have credibility, » Bayne said.

Segal spent decades in senior positions in the Ontario public service before leaving for the private sector, where he has worked as a lawyer, mediator and consultant.

He has led a number of high-profile reviews — notably the independent probe of the actions of Nova Scotia police and public prosecutors in the Rehtaeh Parsons case. He also has conducted reviews of CSIS and the Criminal Law Branch of British Columbia.


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Emergency buzzer had been disabled at prison where Clayton Cromwell died: report – Halifax


An emergency intercom in the jail unit of a young Halifax man who died of a methadone overdose had been improperly disabled by guards who regarded it as a nuisance, according to a corrections investigation.

The report says a cellmate found 23-year-old Clayton Cromwell unconscious on April 7, 2014, and yelled at other inmates with an intercom in their cell to press the “red button.”

But there was no response for 10 or 15 minutes, inmates said, and they had to start kicking doors and yelling to get attention of officers at Halifax’s Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility.

According to the report, released to The Canadian Press under freedom-of-information legislation, the intercom had been cut some time earlier, in contravention of provincial rules.

“They used to have intercoms in there,” a captain is described as telling the corrections investigator.

“They were a nuisance for the most part.”

READ MORE: Privacy chief criticizes partial suppression of N.S. jail death report

He told the investigator that if someone needed medical attention or had disabilities, they had a special cell with a working intercom, but otherwise inmates “get ahold of us by yelling, banging, waving their towels…”

The investigator quoted the cellmate as saying he shouted to ask other inmates to use the emergency intercom to get the attention of guards.

“They were trying to press buzzers … I think the intercom only in the handicap cell works,” the investigator quoted the inmate saying.

The investigation report says a follow up email from the correctional officer several days after the death indicated that the intercom in the specialized health cell also wasn’t working, and there was no record on the reason for that.

The Department of Justice declined all comment on whether the lack of intercom may have caused a delay in response to the dying prisoner and whether changes have been made in response, citing an ongoing lawsuit from his family.

Devin Maxwell, the lawyer representing Cromwell’s family, said in an interview he feels the disconnected system played a role.

“Disabling the intercom system removed a level of security from the inmates that could have allowed Clayton’s cell mate to contact correctional officers before he died. Nuisance was not a sufficient reason to take that option away,” he wrote in an email.

The report contains disputed versions of when inmates first attempted to get the attention of correctional officers, with some reporting they’d been trying since 6 a.m., three hours before the official time of death.

However, closed circuit television showed the first attempts were between 8 a.m. and 8:15 a.m.

WATCH MORE: N.S. justice minister fields tough questions after inmate death

Maxwell says the issue of when inmates first tried to alert corrections officials to the overdose “remains an open issue,” but he argues the failure to detect overdose symptoms the day and night before suggests understaffing at the jail and problems in jail procedures.

Cromwell was in the jail awaiting a hearing on alleged probation violations. He was repeatedly described by inmates as a “good kid,” who’d been in the unit for a short period of time.

Inmates told the investigator that potent opioids were believed to be on the unit, and inmates gave descriptions of the signs of Cromwell’s overdose through the evening and night of his descent into the fatal overdose.

A guard said inmates were being pressured to “cheek” medication – a term meaning the substance is concealed in the inmate’s mouth. One inmate described how opioids “had been floating around” in the days before the overdose.

The document says that the prisoners were locked in their cells for much of the afternoon before Cromwell’s death due to an unrelated health emergency.

Nonetheless, it appears that somehow Cromwell ended up receiving and taking a deadly combination of methadone and an anti-depressant called bezodiazepine, according to autopsy findings. It said medical evidence showed his body wasn’t used to the drug, and a single dose was sufficient to kill him.

According to the investigation report, inmates said on the evening before his death Cromwell was described as “a bit groggy,” and staring at the television in the common area in an unusual way.

However, details were blanked out of the descriptions and all the interviews with guards were cut out of the report released to The Canadian Press, despite the freedom of information commissioner’s findings in August that the province hadn’t provided sufficient evidence to show why they should be withheld.

A cellmate told the investigators that by 11:30 p.m. on April 6, Cromwell was making gurgling noises. At 2 a.m., about seven hours before Cromwell was declared dead in his cell, the cellmate was still hearing Cromwell make “gurgling” noises and had rolled him over.

READ MORE: N.S. privacy commissioner smacks down justice department over secrecy around death of Clayton Cromwell

The report has the inmate describing the noise as “like he was choking on his spit or something … a lot of fluids in his mouth,” and also describes him lifting his arm up and down.

Dr. Risk Kronfli, the director of offender health services at the Nova Scotia Health Authority, said in an interview that a number of measures have been taken since Cromwell’s death to reduce the risk of opioids reaching prisoners.

They include increasing the period of time that inmates are observed after receiving medication by 10 minutes, and thorough strip searches of males before leaving the health unit.

The prison also now has a body scanner to check inmates coming into the facility for any drugs on or inside their body, he said.

“I can tell you since we implemented the strip search and the longer period of time (of observation) there hasn’t been any methadone that’s made its way back to the unit,” said Kronfli.

He said about 29 people are currently on the opioid replacement program at the facility, with 23 receiving methadone, four Suboxone and two on Kadian.

The doctor said the program at the jail is usually for addicts and the medical staff have to balance the safety of the facility with the need to treat the addiction, even if a person has abused the program.


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Quebec man sentenced to prison in New York for marijuana smuggling


A 41-year old Canadian man has been sentenced to more than 11 years in prison for conspiring to smuggle thousands of pounds of marijuana into the United States through the Akwesasne Mohawk Indian Reservation in northern New York.

Colin Stewart of Elgin, Que., admitted he and his co-conspirators smuggled the marijuana for distribution throughout the northeastern United States.

Stewart also admitted he organized the smuggling, paid his co-conspirators, and personally transported the large amount of the drug across the St. Lawrence River onto the reservation.

Chief U.S. District Court Judge Glenn T. Suddaby also ordered Stewart to serve five years of supervised release when he gets out of prison, and pay a $10,000 fine.

The sentencing was announced Monday in Albany, N.Y.


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