FBI informant Brenda Kinian was grilled by defense attorney Joseph Razzano all morning as he picked a part of her plea deal with the federal government in the sentencing trial of ex-Yona mayor Jesse Blas.
Kinian helped the federal government take down Blas based on information that the former mayor was selling mailbox units to drug smugglers. The FBI approached Kinian with a proposition for her to play a role in the sting operation. She assisted the government as part of a plea deal in a separate extortion case in which she posed as an FBI agent in order to extort a local business out of thousands of dollars.
Kinian testified about details of her plea as Razzano questioned her about when she went to the mayor’s office when she was wired, if federal agents took pictures of the money and if a female FBI agent searched her after every arranged meet-up with Blas.
The federal government also questioned Kinian about the deal, asking her to read excerpts from the deal, specifically that the “Defendant acknowledges that she enters this plea agreement and her decision to plead guilty voluntarily, and not because of any force, threats, promises or inducements, apart from the promises and inducements set forth in this plea agreement. She agrees to plead guilty because she is in fact guilty of the charged offenses.”
Kinian testified that she agreed to cooperate with the FBI. In the cross-examination, Kinian indicated that she was hoping that her assistance would result in a recommendation from the prosecution for a reduction in jail time as she, like Blas, is also facing up to 20 years for extortion. She told the prosecution that she understood the decision was dependent on the federal court and her truthful testimony.
As indicated previously, Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood asserted that based on the damning testimony from Kinian, she is considering an upward departure from the sentencing guidelines as opposed to a downward departure.
Sentencing will continue tomorrow with arguments on Blas’ sentencing range. Extortion carries up to 20 years imprisonment.