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A Guyanese man living in Queens, New York man was sentenced on Tuesday to 11 to 33 years in prison for creating a “non-existent son” so he could make money by claiming that the son had died in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, says a report in yesterday’s New York Times.
The sentencing judge, Justice Ronald A. Zweibel of State Supreme Court in Manhattan, said he did not think that the defendant, Cyril Kendall, 54, could be rehabilitated because he “is bereft of any moral values.” He said he handed down the maximum sentence to prevent Mr. Kendall and others from operating similar schemes. Through his lawyer, Mr. Kendall insisted yesterday that his son was real and that he still suffers from his loss.
Mr. Kendall received more than $160,000 in aid from the Red Cross, Safe Horizon and other organisations after the attack, for funeral expenses and bereavement counselling. Evidence shows that he used the money to buy a new car and pay off credit-card debt.
In a rare move from the bench, Justice Zweibel advised the Manhattan district attorney’s office to pursue perjury charges against four Kendall children who took the stand to talk about their relationships with Wilfred Ken-dall, the young man whose existence was in question.
They said that Wilfred Kendall was about 5-foot-10, had dark brown skin and drove a cab for a living. A large part of their father’s defence rested on their testimony.
One of the children, Wilberforce Kendall, 30, who is now in jail in Manhattan, testified that he last saw Wilfred in 1998, just before going to prison for a previous conviction.
Wilberforce Kendall, whose own crimes include forgery and criminal possession of stolen property, said that although they had different mothers, Wilfred “was a brother, a helpful brother.”
Cyril Kendall contended that his son died while at a job interview in the north tower on the morning of the attack. He claimed that Wilfred was his 13th child, born in Guyana 29 years ago. He showed a birth certificate from Guyana to 9/11 relief workers, along with travel documents and other information that could not be substantiated.
In the opinion of the court, it was all lies. One witness, an officer with the United States Embassy in Guyana, said she could not find a birth record for a son of Cyril Kendall named Wilfred.
“There was not one verifiable shred of proof that Wilfred Kendall existed,” the prosecutor, Diana Florence, said yesterday.
Still, Mr. Kendall’s trial was neither fast nor simple, with 33 witnesses testifying over five weeks this summer. He was found guilty on Aug. 7 of two counts of grand larceny, criminal possession of forged documents and offering false information.
Another facet of Cyril Kendall’s defence was that the son who died dabbled in forgery and his personal documents were fake, but that the father did not know it when he submitted the papers to the authorities.
Mr. Kendall’s lawyer, Dawn Florio, said her client plans to appeal, the article reported.