U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn rules against prison time for nine Detroit men who transferred millions of dollars to their home country of Yemen.

In the blink of an eye, U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn surprised nine Detroit-area men during a difficult ruling. The 95-year-old judge opted against sending them to prison for opening bank accounts to transfer millions of dollars to their home country of Yemen. The men failed to register as a money transfer business, punishable by serving a few years in prison.

Yemen has been involved in a war for years, resulting in thousands of casualties and leaving many citizens with minimal food or health care. The money was intended to help their families and provide aid to a country that desperately needs it.

The Associated Press reported all nine men pleaded guilty to not registering as a money transfer business or sharing false information with agents. Even so, Judge Cohn rejected the prison terms and placed six of the men on probation, while three others are still awaiting sentencing.

Cohn told The Jewish News that “only people without compassion would object to the light sentences. I’ve been here longer, I’ve come to the realization that the rules are flexible — at least to me.”

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