Highjacker returns from Cuba, objects to terms of conviction

William Potts highjacked a flight from New York to Miami and took the plane to Havana in March 1984. He claimed to be “Lieutenant Spartacus” and “a soldier of the Black Liberation Army.”

Now he’s back in the U.S. and pleading guilty to kidnapping instead of the more serious charge of air piracy.

The former New Jersey man, who commandeered the Miami-bound commercial jet to Havana in 1984, finally surrendered to U.S. authorities in November after living the life of a prisoner and fugitive in Cuba. Potts said he wanted to face the American justice system and reconnect with his two daughters now residing in the United States.


A last-minute disagreement delayed Tuesday’s conviction of an American who returned from Cuba several decades after hijacking an airliner to reach the island.

Attorneys for William Potts, 57, objected to the terms of an agreement on the 13 years that Potts was imprisoned in Cuba.

Potts has agreed to plead guilty in exchange for a lighter sentence.

The District Judge Robin Rosenbaum scheduled another hearing for Thursday after the prosecutor Maria Medetis said he needed authorization from the Department of State to make any changes in the agreement.

Looks like staying in the island-prison was worse than doing time in the U.S.


2 Responses to “Highjacker returns from Cuba, objects to terms of conviction”

  1. Old Timer Says:

    I read that when hijackings were the rage at that time the routine was the Cubans would hold the plane for awhile. They would feed the returning passengers sandwiches while they waited. Then the Cubans would send an invoice to the Swiss who were acting as USA’s representative. The Cubans charged $35 per sandwich.

  2. Fausta Says:


    One of my cousins was in a plane hijacked to Cuba, and they were made to wait inside the plane. It was horrible.