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Sanctuary leader sentenced to year in jail for aiding Salvadoreans

The director of a halfway house for Salvadorean refugees was sentenced Wednesday to one year in prison, after he rejected an offer for probation that would have restricted his activities in the sanctuary movement. Jack Elder, the director of Casa Oscar Romero in San Benito, Texas, was sentenced by US District Judge Filemon Vela to concurrent one-year terms on each of six counts, including conspiring to help two Salvadoreans enter the United States, helping them enter the country, and transporting them to a bus station in Harlingen from San Benito. Judge Vela later scheduled a hearing for Thursday to reconsider Mr. Elder's sentence.

Stacey Lynn Merkt, a volunteer at the Roman Catholic Church-sponsored shelter who was tried with Elder last month, was sentenced to 179 days in prison for her conviction on conspiring to help the Salvadoreans to enter the US illegally. -- 30 --

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