The US Treasury Department has ordered federal charges dropped against three members of a Methodist church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin who were accused of spending US dollars during a visit to Cuba.
At a news conference called by the Wisconsin Coalition to Normalize Relations with Cuba, attorney Art Heitzer said that Washington will end nearly six years of threats and legal prosecution of the Methodist 3, as they became known in Milwaukee, without requiring any fines or other penalties.
They were among six members of Milwaukee’s oldest Methodist Church, Central United Methodist, who visited their sister church in Havana to help celebrate its 100th anniversary. Earlier this year, they were charged with spending between 40 and 70 dollars each, resulting in government demands for penalties totally $22,500.
Supporters of the Methodist 3 say the US Treasury Department’s only condition on dropping the charges was that they drop their counterclaims against the government.
The three church members charged interference with their religion and racism, pointing to the fact that most of the white members of the delegation were not prosecuted, while two African-Americans were.
Attorneys for the three told reporters that information on their case was circulated widely during the presidential election campaign in Wisconsin, and that negotiating final language for the dismissals had been taking place over the last several weeks.