Man attacks federal prosecutor after being convicted

Saturday, December 14, 2002

ST. LOUIS -- A man lunged at a federal prosecutor in court Friday moments after he was convicted of charges he directed another man to kill a government witness in a drug and weapons case, the government said.

Qusai Mahasin, 23, was quickly subdued after leaping toward assistant federal prosecutor Tom Mehan after the verdict was announced, U.S. Attorney's Office spokeswoman Jan Diltz said. Mehan was unharmed.

"It was kind of a surprise to all of us," Diltz said Friday night. Without saying a word, Mahasin "just bolted, and it was all within seconds. He was subdued before he could really injure Tom."

Hours later, Mehan told The Associated Press he preferred not to publicly discuss the matter.

Mahasin "proved how violent and out of control he is by attacking the prosecutor," Ray Gruender, the U.S. attorney for Missouri's eastern district, said.

Mahasin will be charged with assault, Gruender said.

After about 11 hours of deliberations in the four-day trial, jurors convicted Mahasin of felony charges that he tried to kill a government witness, possessed heroin with plans to sell it, carried a firearm during a drug-trafficking crime, and illegally used a firearm.

Witnesses testified Mahasin directed Maurice Rose to go to a witness' home and kill him. The witness was shot three times but recovered, the government said.

Mahasin, who remains in custody, faces up to life in prison and $2 million in fines when sentenced Feb. 28.

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