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Judge extends Iranian's sentence

May 07, 2008|Vanessa Blum | South Florida Sun-Sentinel

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. — Shahrazad Mir Gholikhan, an Iranian woman accused of trying to export night-vision goggles to Iran, thought her guilty plea last month would be her ticket home to her family.

The federal prosecutor had recommended a sentence of time served for her role in the illegal plot to trade with Iran, a U.S.-designated terrorist nation. U.S. District Judge James Cohn imposed the sentence at an April 25 hearing in Fort Lauderdale federal court.

But Tuesday, that smooth resolution unraveled. Determining that the sentence had been a mistake, Cohn extended Gholikhan's prison term from time served to two years and five months.

Under the law, federal judges can amend sentences within seven business days that result from "arithmetic, technical, or other clear error."

Prosecutor Michael Walleisa alerted Cohn last week that both sides had calculated the recommended sentence using the wrong federal sentencing guideline. The correct sentencing range should have been 30 to 37 months, Walleisa said.

He asserted that the earlier sentence was far too light for "a national security offense that involved trade with a state sponsor of terror."

William Barzee, Gholikhan's attorney, called the resentencing unfair and un-American, saying after the hearing that his client, 30, feels as if she's back in Iran.

"I don't think it's fair to [agree on a sentence] and have someone plead guilty and then come back and ask the court for a do-over," Barzee said in court Tuesday.

Barzee said he would probably seek to withdraw Gholikhan's guilty plea and go to trial. U.S. Atty. Alex Acosta declined to comment.

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