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Snag Delays Guilty Plea In 1984 Cuba Hijacking

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William Potts leaving Havana on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013. (Source: CBS4)

William Potts leaving Havana on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013. (Source: CBS4)

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MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – An American who returned from Cuba last year, three decades after he hijacked a jetliner to the communist island, had a change of plea hearing for Thursday which was ended up being delayed.

William Potts, who originally pleaded not guilty, was expected to change his plea to guilty in Miami federal court Thursday.

A last-minute disagreement delayed a planned guilty plea by an American who returned from Cuba decades after hijacking a jetliner to the communist island.

The attorney for 57-year-old William Potts objected to language in a proposed plea deal concerning the 13 years Potts spent in a Cuban prison for the crime. U.S. District Judge Robin Rosenbaum set another hearing for Thursday.

In 1984 Potts, a member of the Black Panthers, boarded a plane out of Newark Airport with a pistol. He hijacked the plane which was flying to Miami, and demanded the pilots fly to Havana, Cuba.

He reportedly went to Cuba intending to learn how to overthrow the U.S. government. When they landed, Potts thought he’d be greeted as a hero by the Castro administration and trained in revolutionary military tactics. Instead, Cuba put him on trial and imprisoned him for at least 13-years.

Cuban officials did offer Potts a chance to return to America before his initial trial, but Potts decided to stay on the island to prove his revolutionary bona fides.

After Potts was released from prison he continued to live in Cuba and had two daughters. Though, Cuba wasn’t particularly harboring him.

In November 2013, he voluntarily returned to America after receiving a one use passport from the United States Interests Section.

Potts’ daughters were allowed to leave Cuba in 2012 and are currently living in Georgia with family.

Potts hopes that his time served in a Cuban prison could mitigate his sentencing in the U.S.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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