“Lost…in the Emotion of the Night”: Attorney Who Firebombed Police Vehicle Given 15 Month Sentence

We previously discussed the case of two New York attorneys (Colinford Mattis and Urooj Rahman) who joined in violent protests in New York, including firebombing a police vehicle. The Biden Justice Department later gave the two lawyers an astonishingly generous plea deal that avoided long prison sentences. Now Rahman has been sentenced to 15 months after asking for no jail time for throwing the Molotov cocktail.

Mattis was a member of the Corporate Group at Pryor Cashman when he was arrested. Mattis graduated from New York University School of Law in 2016 and received his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University. He was also previously employed as an associate at Holland & Knight.

Rahman had just been admitted to the New York bar in June 2019 after graduating from Fordham University School of Law.

The police also had a picture of Rahman with the explosive. The FBI statement included the following description:

“Officers pursued the minivan and arrested Rahman and Mattis, who was the vehicle’s driver.  The NYPD recovered several precursor items used to build Molotov Cocktails, including a lighter, a bottle filled with toilet paper and a liquid suspected to be gasoline in the vicinity of the passenger seat and a gasoline tank in the rear of the vehicle.”

Mattis and Rahman were facing domestic terrorism charges and the possibility of 30 years in jail. The Biden Administration later agreed to a massive reduction of the charges in a plea agreement that would likely result only in a couple years of jail time. What is particularly bizarre is that the plea agreement reduced an earlier plea agreement for a more serious offense. They had agreed to the more serious offense but the Justice Department cut it down further.

The now-disbarred attorney sought no jail time and told the court that “I completely lost my way in the emotion of the night.”

U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan praised Rahman for her commitment to fighting social injustices: “You’re a remarkable person who did a terrible thing on one night.” Cogan, however, also criticized her “arrogance” displayed in such conduct. Firebombing seems a tad more than arrogance when you throw Molotov cocktails at police cars.

Even with the greatly reduced charges, Cogan still elected not to give Rahman the maximum sentence of two years. While Rahman claimed to have been caught up in the moment, her texts and emails established a difficult story. In one message hours before the protest, she told Mattis “I hope they burn everything down. Need to burn all the police stations down… probably all the courts too.”

Mattis is expected to be sentenced in December.

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