By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Henry Billingsley, the son-in-law of Dallas real-estate developer Trammell Crow, has been sentenced to six months in a halfway house and three years' probation for his illegal dealings with a Libyan finance minister.
Billingsley had pleaded guilty in July to charges of smuggling Mohammed Bukhari across the Mexican border into Texas in October 1992 so that the Libyan official could attend a two-day gathering of politicians and businessmen. The gathering, which took place at a campsite in East Texas, is arranged annually by the Crows.
The Dallas Observer reported the smuggling incident in a December 22, 1994, cover story, "The Crow-Qadhafi connection." The article gave the first detailed account of Billingsley's attempt to offer the Libyan a chance to talk with U.S. politicians about lifting trade sanctions against that country. At the same time the article reported--and court documents later confirmed--that Billingsley hoped to encourage the Libyan to buy some 200 million dollars' worth of Dallas-area land that the Crow son-in-law wanted to sell.
Federal laws--enacted in response to the Libyan government's willingness to harbor terrorists such as those alleged to be responsible for the Pan Am jet bombing that killed 270 people over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988--bar U.S. citizens from engaging in business with individuals or representatives of that country.
According to federal sentencing guidelines, Billingsley could have received a sentence of as much as six months in prison. But U.S. District Judge Joyce Hens Green opted last week in Washington, D.C., for the lighter sentence of six months in a community confinement center and probation. The judge fined Billingsley $5,000 plus court costs, which include $1,132 a month for the halfway house and about $180 per month for a probation officer. The judge also ordered Billingsley to perform 300 hours of community service, requiring him to speak to high school and college students about his illegal actions.
Billingsley is scheduled to serve out his time at a halfway house in the Dallas area. The specific site has not yet been chosen, according to a probation officer assigned to the case.
Billingsley issued a brief statement: "I deeply regret the circumstances and I am sincerely grateful for the support of my family and friends. I respect the judge's decision and am committed to successfully implementing it." His lawyer, Peter Chavkin, did not respond to requests for comment.