Milwaukeeans have expressed relief that the federal government has agreed to dismiss, without fines or penalties, the case against them for traveling to Cuba on a church mission without a license.
“It’s been looming over our heads for five years,” Dollora Greene-Evans said of word that a settlement had been signed by Administrative Law Judge Robert L. Barton Jr. in Washington, D.C.
She, along with William Ferguson Jr. and Theron Mills, faced an administrative hearing and possible fines of $7,500 each or more in connection with a 1999 trip to Cuba.
“I never thought it would come out like this. I’m very pleased,” Greene-Evans said.
Mills said the three were delighted.
“I would love to go back to Cuba, but there are other places I would also like to go, like Spain and Portugal.”
The trio was among six members of the Central United Methodist Church who went to Havana to mark the 100th anniversary of its sister congregation, Iglesia Metodista Central de Trinidad.
The federal government contended the three violated the Cuban Assets Control Regulation because they spent U.S. money in Cuba without the necessary license from the U.S. government.
The three agreed as part of the settlement to drop their counterclaims against the government, said Art Heitzer, an attorney involved in the case.
The three had contended in their counterclaim that the government was interfering with the right to practice religion and had engaged in selective prosecution because Greene-Evans and Ferguson are black. Mills is white.
Shayana Kadidal, a lawyer for the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York who also worked on the case, said it is highly unusual for such cases to be dismissed without at least a fine.
“We don’t know of any other case that was dismissed for nothing,” he said Tuesday.
Treasury Department spokeswoman Molly Millerwise said the department does not comment on individual cases.