Philly Imam jailed for 8 years for selling guns including assault rifles
March 2, 2007
Imam gets 8 years on weapons charges
By John Shiffman
Inquirer Staff Writer
A West Philadelphia imam who argued that he was entrapped by federal agents investigating unfounded terrorism suspicions was sentenced yesterday to eight years and four months in prison on weapons charges.
Wayne Hogue, who is also known as Imam Wadir and Shaheed Bay, was secretly recorded selling 11 guns, including three assault rifles, to an FBI informant working for the Joint Terrorism Task Force.
In early 2002, terrorism task-force agents had asked the informant, Hezekiah Salone, to keep "his ears and eyes open" for trouble at Hogue's mosque, at 52d and Chestnut Streets in West Philadelphia, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Zaleski.
Salone did not find evidence of terrorism or drug-dealing.
U.S. District Judge Timothy Savage, who has privately reviewed secret FBI files in the case, said yesterday that the mosque was not suspected of any wrongdoing.
However, after spending more than a year developing Hogue's confidence, the informant was able to record 11 gun sales in a 10-month period. Zaleski said Hogue initiated the purchases.
Hogue's lawyer, Paul J. Hetznecker, said that the informant was the one who initiated them.
At trial, public defenders Dina Chavar and Catherine Henry portrayed the informant, who called himself Rocky, as an untrustworthy opportunist who was paid $46,000 by the FBI and targeted Hogue to keep himself in the agents' good graces.
Hogue, a street vendor who is well known for running a neighborhood chess game, yesterday told the judge that he had tried to help Salone because he believed he was a wayward drug dealer.
"But as I was trying to pull him out, he was pulling me in," Hogue said.
"If it wasn't for the bionic rat," he said, referring to Salone, "I wouldn't be here... . These people hoodwinked and bamboozled me... . The money was good... . He was good. I was sucked in."
Savage replied: "You knew better. Someone could have been seriously hurt or killed... . You not only betrayed your family, you betrayed your faith... . You betrayed your ideals."