Federal charges were filed yesterday against a local hotel worker who allegedly sent a threatening note to her Arab American boss that referenced the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
"You and your kids will pay," the note said, according to the FBI. "Remember 9/11. . . . Patriotism and anger along with desire for revenge."
Kia Reid of Philadelphia is expected to plead guilty to a misdemeanor civil-rights violation, probably this week, said her lawyer, Catherine Henry.
Reid, a single mother of three with no prior criminal record, could receive up to a year in prison, but also is eligible for probation, according to the advisory federal sentencing guidelines.
The victim, identified in court papers only as "N.T.," said in an interview yesterday that she was initially hesitant to approach the FBI because she is Arab American.
"Under the Patriot Act, we are all oppressed by the FBI. Let's not kid ourselves," said the woman, who was born in Cairo, and became a U.S. citizen in the 1960s. "As a Arab American, I didn't like dealing with the FBI because of the stereotype in our community - they are there to arrest you, not help you.
"But the agent was great," she said. "He helped prove to me that I matter as a person. People don't have to take this stuff lying down. People shouldn't be afraid."
Criminal charges related to civil rights are rare, particularly in cases where Arab Americans are victims, said Sireen Sawaf, a spokesman for the Muslim Public Affairs Council, a national advocacy group that will hold a press conference with the federal officials today in Philadelphia.
The FBI originally arrested Reid in March and charged her with lying to a federal agent, but that charge is expected to be dropped in light of the plea agreement.
Reid allegedly sent the letter Oct. 2 to her boss at the Sheraton Suites Hotel near Philadelphia International Airport.
The FBI agent who handled the case, Frank Burton Jr., began with one good clue: The letters pasted to the threatening note appeared to be cut from brochures in the hotel lobby.
Burton interviewed hotel employees, including Reid, he said in an affidavit. The agent said that Reid suggested that her boss had concocted the entire incident. Other employees denied knowing anything about it.
A few days later, however, a lawyer for one of the employees called to say that his client had spoken to Reid about it. The client became an informant, the FBI said, and wore a wire.
According to the agent, Reid said on tape that she was not worried about the investigation.
"They're at a loss!" Reid allegedly said of the FBI.