UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) - A couple was sentenced Friday to probation for
conspiring to steal bits of seat material from the reconstructed
TWA Flight 800.
James Sanders, 53, a self-styled investigative reporter, and
Elizabeth, 52, had faced up to 10 years in prison.
``I feel much better now,'' Mrs. Sanders said outside the courtroom,
before the third anniversary of the explosion that killed 230
the Paris-bound flight.
Sanders, author of the 1997 book ``The Downing of TWA Flight 800,''
given three years probation and 50 hours of community service.
His wife, a
former TWA employee, received one year probation and 25 hours
The two were convicted in April of stealing evidence from a civil
crash site or wreckage.
The prosecutor argued that Sanders conspired with his wife and
a former TWA
pilot, Terrell Stacey, to take seat fabric in December 1996.
guilty to a misdemeanor in the case.
Defense attorney Bruce Maffeo tried to blame the government for
actions. He said the couple had a First Amendment right to take
and stolen crash-related documents to expose a government cover-up.
``Three years ago tomorrow this tragedy occurred,'' Maffeo said
sentencing, ``and the government has yet to come up with a conclusive
to this crash.''
In his book, Sanders claimed that the U.S. Navy mistakenly shot
jetliner. He believed the swatches were stained with missile
The FBI said the stains were from glue.
Investigators believe a fuel-air explosion in the plane's empty
tank caused the catastrophe.
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