Jury finds former Outlaws gang leader guilty, rejects 'CIA defense'

It took 32 years to get the 1981 criminal charge against Thor Hansen to court, four hours to try the case and 6 1/2 hours of jury deliberations to find him guilty.

Hansen, 68, who acted as his own attorney until the closing minutes of trial, was convicted Thursday of jumping bond for walking out of Fort Lauderdale's federal courthouse in May 1981 during his trial for selling cocaine to undercover DEA agents at a city restaurant.

His rambling defense theory was that he was the victim of a CIA conspiracy to shut him down after his Lantana training camp for a "broomstick army" to overthrow the Haitian government – he said was backed by the CIA and Carter administration – was exposed by reporters.

Hansen argued he acted under duress when he fled to his native Norway via a hideout on Alligator Alley and a boat trip to the Bahamas, insisting that an alleged CIA operative told him he should leave immediately because his wife and baby daughter would be kidnapped by foreign agents, possibly from Libya.

Jurors said they found it "tough" to reach a decision, partly because the allegation was more than 30 years old.

During deliberations they asked questions that revealed they considered whether Hansen believed – in his own mind – that his family was in imminent danger. U.S. District Judge William Dimitrouleas told them the law said the legal standard was what a reasonable person would believe.

Hansen's standby lawyer, Joseph Chambrot, who took over handling the case at the last minute and delivered a closing argument that artfully summarized Hansen's scatterbrained thoughts, said he will appeal the verdict.

"As far as Mr. Hansen is concerned, this is not over," Chambrot said. "If re-tried with proper defense counsel, I think he would be acquitted."

Hansen, formerly of Lighthouse Point and now a musician in Norway, faces a maximum of five years in prison when he is sentenced later this year. Hansen has been jailed for more than two months waiting for trial after fighting for years to return to the U.S. to face the charge and will likely be deported to Norway pretty quickly.

Hansen reacted to the verdict with a slight nod, then shrugged at his girlfriend and a supporter who's collaborating with him on a screenplay about his life. He joked that he hopes to reunite the jurors from the 1981 case – who convicted him of the drug charges in his absence – to appear in a music video with him and country star Willie Nelson singing an anti-U.S. Department of Justice song Hansen wrote.

pmcmahon@tribune.com, 954-356-4533 or Twitter @SentinelPaula

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