You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

American pleads guilty in 1984 Cuba jet hijacking

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — An American who returned from Cuba after hijacking a jetliner to the communist island 30 years ago pleaded guilty Thursday to a US kidnapping charge. Now, he is hoping for credit for the time he served behind bars in Cuba.

William Potts, 57, entered the plea before US District Judge Robin Rosenbaum. In interviews before his return from Cuba last year, Potts said he decided to return after such a long time to finally resolve the US case. His lawyer, Assistant Federal Public Defender Robert Berube, said Potts has children living in the United States and wanted to get out of Cuba.

Continue reading below

‘‘He wants to put this behind him,’’ Berube said. ‘‘He didn’t have to come back, but he did.’’

Federal prosecutors substituted the kidnapping count for a previous charge of air piracy, which carried a mandatory prison sentence of at least 20 years. Although the kidnapping charge has a maximum life sentence, it gives Rosenbaum more flexibility in sentencing Potts.

Potts is seeking credit for 15 years he served in a Cuban prison, although in his plea agreement Potts acknowledged Rosenbaum is under no legal obligation to do so. The plea deal says the judge can consider the Cuban time as one factor in his US sentence.

‘‘There’s no guarantee of that, but 15 years in a Cuban prison is pretty hard time,’’ Berube said.

Sentencing on the US conviction was set for July 11.

‘‘It’s entirely up to the court what your sentence will be,’’ Rosenbaum reminded Potts.

Loading comments...
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Already a subscriber?
Your city. Your stories. Your Globe.
Yours FREE for two weeks.
Enjoy free unlimited access to Globe.com for the next two weeks.
Limited time only - No credit card required!
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.
Thanks & Welcome to Globe.com
You now have unlimited access for the next two weeks.
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.