New York lawyers plead guilty in Molotov cocktail case

FILE PHOTO: Handout photos of Colinford Mattis and Urooj Rahman
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By David Thomas

(Reuters) - Two New York lawyers pleaded guilty on Wednesday for their roles in a Molotov cocktail attack during May 2020 protests sparked by George Floyd's death.

Prosecutors said one of the lawyers, Urooj Rahman, threw a gasoline-filled bottle into an empty police vehicle, attempted to distribute Molotov cocktails to others, and then fled in a minivan driven by Colinford Mattis.

The incident came during Brooklyn protests after Floyd, a Black man, was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis, sparking widespread protests against racism and police violence.

Rahman, 32, and Mattis, 34, each pleaded guilty in federal court in Brooklyn to a single count of possessing or making a destructive device.

"I deeply regret my conduct and wish I had made better choices on that night," Mattis said.

Rahman also expressed regret, and both acknowledged that they would likely be disbarred as a result of their guilty pleas.

U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan set their sentencing for Feb. 8. They face up to 10 years in prison under a terrorism-related sentencing provision.

"The terrorism enhancement is going to be a big issue. I have no idea where I’m going to come out on that," Cogan said.

Rahman's lawyer, Paul Shechtman, said the pair "do not deserve a prison sentence for conduct that occurred in the heat of the moment on one of the most heated nights in modern American history."

Mattis, an associate at Pryor Cashman, was furloughed in April 2020 in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic and then suspended following his arrest. Rahman represented tenants in the Bronx as a public interest lawyer.

(Reporting by David Thomas in New York; Editing by Noeleen Walder, Matthew Lewis and Peter Cooney)

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