MIAMI (AP) _ A 38-year-old man has pleaded innocent to federal charges of helping plan, finance and arm a 1982 attempt to overthrow the since-deposed president of Haiti.
Frank Henry Nichols, of Ottawa, entered his plea Monday before U.S. Magistrate Ann E. Vitunac, who set his bail at $250,000.
He faces up to 23 years in prison and a $28,000 fine if convicted of charges of conspiracy to invade Haiti; furnishing money for a military expedition against Haiti; exporting firearms from the United States without a proper license; and shipping firearms outside the country with intent to commit offenses against the United States.
Nichols, a fugitive since 1982, was arrested Friday at a gas station on the Florida Turnpike, said Paul Miller, an FBI spokesman.
Nichols’ indictment in July 1982 was based on the March 16, 1982, seizure of two 40-foot boats, bound from Florida for Haiti, carrying 15 men. Miller said federal agents also seized from the vessels 45 semi-automatic rifles, shotguns, and single-shot rifles; 16 handguns; about 17,000 rounds of ammunition; 10 gas grenades; 10 canisters of smoke grenades; and military clothing.
The government charged that Nichols was a gunrunner who was helping a coup attempt against Haitian President-for-Life Jean-Claude Duvalier, who was deposed earlier this year, Miller said.
Miller said that offense would have violated the U.S. Neutrality Act, which bars violent acts against nations with which the United States is not at war.
The indictment charges Nichols with meeting rebels in Miami and New York City in 1982 to discuss financing the coup and with giving the rebels $14,000 on March 11, 1982, to buy weapons and other supplies for an invasion.
Now, only one man named in the indictment remains a fugitive, Miller said. He is Nguyen Huu Chi, 50, last known to be a political science professor at Carleton University in the Ottawa area, Miller said.
Miller said Nichols initially gave agents a false name when arrested. But he later admitted his identity and told the agents he had visited the United States using false identities six times since 1982, Miller said.