... He was facing up to eight years in prison if federal prosecutors had been able to convince Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Mary Murguia that the trip was related to international or domestic terrorism. Ultimately, Murguia in 2011 sentenced him to three years probation for the false statement. According to federal court records obtained by Vocativ, the judge determined that the feds didn’t make their case—despite audio recordings of Simpson talking about “jihad” with an FBI informant.[...]
In another recording, from May 29, 2009, Simpson tells Deng: “It’s time to go to Somalia, brother,” before explaining, “we gonna make it to the battlefield…it’s time to roll.” On January 7, 2010, FBI agents contacted Simpson and specifically asked whether he “discussed traveling to, or are you planning to, travel to Somalia?”
Simpson said “no.”[...]
Federal prosecutors wanted Simpson to receive the beefed-up sentence of eight years because, they argued, his crime of lying to federal authorities involved terrorism. But Judge Murguia—an Obama appointee on what is often considered to be the most left-leaning appeals court in the country—found that there was insufficient evidence that Simpson’s false statement to authorities involved international terrorism. Read it all...