Published August 30, 2011
DETROIT – A federal judge in Grand Rapids sentenced two recent college graduates to 30 days in jail for protesting U.S. Sen. Carl Levin's stance on foreign policy by putting an apple pie in his face.
Ahlam Mohsen and Max Kantar were sentenced Tuesday by U.S. District Court Judge Robert Holmes Bell and handed over to U.S. marshals.
Levin did not attend the sentencing. He was out of the country and unavailable for comment Tuesday, his office said.
Mohsen and Kantar were arrested in August 2010 after Mohsen attacked the Democrat with the pie during a meeting with constituents at a Big Rapids deli, about 50 miles north of Grand Rapids.
Mohsen, a 23-year-old Michigan State University graduate, had said crust was removed from the pie "to insure that there would be no physical harm" to the senator, according to a sentencing memorandum filed in federal court.
Kantar, a 24-year-old graduate of Ferris State University in Big Rapids, read a statement at the public forum just before Levin was hit with the pie.
Both pleaded guilty to assault on a member of Congress.
Sentencing guidelines for the misdemeanor offense called for eight to 12 months in prison, but probation officials recommended no custody, a year's probation and $500 fine. Bell's sentence did not include fines or restitution.
"He saw that they're good kids," said Allison Folmar, Mohsen's attorney. "They expressed their political views in a misguided way. They never meant to insult the senator or assault hm. She wasn't trying to hurt him. The way they saw it, it was an exclamation point on their political statements."
Folmar said Mohsen and Kantar took opposition to the U.S. involvement in wars overseas that resulted in the deaths of innocent children. Levin, as chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, represented that involvement.
"They wanted to be heard on behalf of the innocent victims," Folmar said of Mohsen and Kantar.
Kantar "in his youthful zeal chose a method to make his point that went beyond the scope of expression, and which he has acknowledged, crossed the boundary from speech to an assault under the law," his attorney, Jerome Goldberg wrote in a sentencing memorandum.
Mohsen and Kantar were expected to serve their sentences in the Newaygo County Jail, Folmar said.