Criminal Justice

2 lawyers plead guilty in Molotov cocktail attack on cop car; prosecutors seek terrorism enhancement

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AP photo Racial Injustice Firebombing Charges

New York lawyers Colinford Mattis (left) and Urooj Rahman in their May 2020 booking photos. Photos from the U.S. attorney’s office of the Eastern District of New York via the Associated Press.

Federal prosecutors are seeking a 10-year sentence for two lawyers who pleaded guilty Wednesday to a single charge in a Molotov cocktail attack on an empty New York City police car during racial justice protests.

Prosecutors say a terrorism enhancement should apply to the sentences imposed on Colinford Mattis and Urooj Rahman, report Law360, and the New York Times.

Mattis has been suspended from his position as a Pryor Cashman associate, while Rahman was formerly a Bronx Legal Services lawyer.

Mattis and Rahman pleaded guilty to one count of possessing or making a destructive device as part of a plea deal. They were previously charged with seven offenses that carried a mandatory minimum sentence of 45 years in prison.

U.S. District Judge Brian M. Cogan of the Eastern District of New York told the lawyers during a Wednesday hearing that they were “all but certain to be disbarred because of their plea.”

Sentencing is tentatively set for Feb. 8.

Cogan said “the terrorism enhancement is going to be a big issue,” according to Law360’s coverage of the hearing. “I have no idea where I’ll come out on that,” Cogan said.

Cogan said he could sentence Mattis and Rahman to as little as no prison time or as much as 10 years in prison, according to Law360. The lawyers will also have to pay fines of $10,000 each and joint restitution of $30,000. They agreed not to appeal their sentence if Cogan imposes five years or less of prison time.

During the hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ian Richardson read electronic messages allegedly exchanged between the defendants.

According to Law360, one message from Rahman read, “I hope they burn everything down. Need to burn all the police stations down and probably the courts too.” Another message from Mattis read, “Go burn down 1PP,” a reference to New York City Police Department headquarters.

Cogan responded that the hearing was “not the time for a press release,” and the information should instead be used at sentencing.

Mattis is a 2016 graduate of the New York University School of Law who attended Princeton University as an undergraduate. He was an associate at Holland & Knight before joining Pryor Cashman. His mother had died of cancer in the year before his arrest, and he was caring for three children she had been fostering, according to the New York Times.

Rahman is a graduate of the Fordham University School of Law. The superintendent of Rahman’s building told the New York Daily News last year that she was “an angel” who recently lost her job.

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