Plea deal aids man, prosecutors



A 27-year-old Baltimore man who admitted his role in the Harwood neighborhood firebombing last year reaped the benefits of cooperating with federal authorities yesterday when a federal judge shaved years off his recommended prison sentence.

Isaac Smith was sentenced to 12 1/2 years in prison for pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit witness tampering and use of fire and explosives to commit a felony. But recommended federal sentencing guidelines could have added as much as 15 years.

"I think your testimony was critical to the prosecution of a very serious crime," U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz told Smith yesterday. "And I think you're entitled to credit for that."

Instead of criticizing the lighter sentence, federal agents held up the courtroom outcome as evidence that witnesses to crime -- even if they were also participants -- will receive some credit from their cooperation.

"We were able to corroborate everything he told us," Assistant U.S. Attorney David Copperthite told Motz. "He put himself out there by testifying at trial."

Apologetic in court yesterday, Smith earlier came clean that he was a Bloods gang member who carried a flaming Molotov cocktail to the home of neighborhood activist Edna Mc- Abier. After his arrest, Smith told investigators he never threw the firebomb at the home and he agreed to testify against those who did.

According to court papers and trial testimony, Smith met with six others Jan. 15, 2005, to firebomb McAbier's home to retaliate for her calls to police about drug activity.

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