A judge dismissed charges Friday against organizers of a sailboat race from Key West to Cuba who were accused of violating federal laws against trading with enemy nations.
Peter Goldsmith and Michele Geslin had been charged with two counts of providing unlicensed travel services to Cuba. If convicted of both counts, they could have faced 15-year prison sentences.
“The defendants certainly feel vindicated,” said attorney Mario Cano, who represents Goldsmith.
Carlos B. Castillo, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office, said his office was reviewing the decision.
Crews competing in the Key West Sailing Club Conch Republic Cup departed May 22, 2003, for Havana and several Cuban shore communities after receiving pre-race warnings they would be violating U.S. licensing regulations.
About 20 boats took part in the race, which was then in its third year.
U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King wrote in his decision that regulations in effect at the time did not bar coordinated travel by independent participants in a sailboat race.
The sailors’ registration fees were used to pay for T-shirts, trophies and a party in Key West, and did not constitute travel services, the ruling said.