SALEM — If anyone ought to know and appreciate the need for an honest and impartial judicial system, it would be the son of a man taken as a political prisoner in his native country, a judge and a prosecutor suggested yesterday.
But Jonathan Ngarambe, 23, of 10 First St., Salem, admitted yesterday that he had tried to get onto a jury hearing a gang rape case in March by lying to a judge about whether he knew anyone involved in the case.
It turns out that Ngarambe was a classmate of three of the four defendants, as well as the victim, before he dropped out of Salem High School three months before the end of his senior year. But when asked repeatedly by Judge John Lu whether he knew anyone involved in the case, Ngarambe insisted he did not.
Even as he was being arraigned on charges of perjury last spring, he remained Facebook friends with one of the defendants. And a prosecutor said yesterday that Ngarambe had also contacted the victim before the trial.
Yesterday, Ngarambe was sentenced to two years in jail, to be followed by two years’ probation, after pleading guilty to perjury and misleading a judge.
“I cannot even imagine the impact on a family of having a father taken as a political prisoner and being ripped from his home without the opportunity for a trial,” Judge David Lowy remarked.
“Then you come to the United States, to these shores, yearning to breathe free,” Lowy said. “People have died in countless wars, who have, as Lincoln said in his Gettysburg Address, given the last full measure of devotion, so we can have a trial and see if the government can meet its substantial burden of proof.
“No one should have understood that better than you, after what happened to your family in the Congo.”