Detroit-area men who sent millions to Yemen spared prison

DETROIT (AP) — Detroit-area men who moved millions of dollars to Yemen have avoided prison, thanks to a 95-year-old judge who says “only people without compassion” would disagree with his light sentences.

Nine men created shell businesses and opened bank accounts to wire money to needy people in Yemen, their war-torn native country. But they were charged with crimes for failing to register as a money transfer business.

Detroit federal Judge Avern Cohn so far has sentenced six men to supervised release, a form of probation. Three more are awaiting a sentence. The judge notes that Yemen’s financial system is a mess and its residents desperately need help because of civil war.

Prosecutors said they had no evidence the scheme was anything more than sending money to relatives and possibly avoiding taxes.