Dominican Cornelius Fontaine was slapped with an eight-month prison sentence after he was caught with $52,000 earned through gambling.
Fontaine, a fisherman who resides in Antigua, had pleaded guilty to the offence of being in possession of proceeds of criminal conduct in a previous court appearance.
In handing down the sentence on Thursday, Senior Magistrate Tamia Richards said gambling is illegal in the territory and ordered that Fontaine’s custodial sentence begin from the first day of his incarceration at Her Majesty’s Prison.
The court said Fontaine’s no previous convictions, his cooperation with police and his early guilty plea were all considered to be ‘mitigating’ factors
On the other hand, the seriousness and prevalence of the offence were considered as aggravating factors in the matter.
The court also ordered that the $52,000 be forfeited to the territory.
Meanwhile, Fontaine’s co-accused Deverson Williams of St Vincent pleaded not guilty to the charge is currently on bail and will be tried before the court at a later date.
What the court heard happened
The court heard that the members of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force Armed Response Unit were on mobile patrol on February 6 when they received information which led them to intercept a Suzuki Grand Vitara.
Both men were said to be travelling in the vehicle at the time.
A search of the vehicle uncovered a red computer bag stashed behind the driver’s seat. The bag contained the aforementioned cash.
When questioned, the duo reportedly denied knowledge of the cash. Fontaine, however, said the bag which contained the money belonged to him.
They were subsequently arrested and charged.
During a subsequent police interview, Fontaine reportedly admitted to police that the cash belonged to him. However, he refused to disclose the source of the money or why it was in his possession.
His attorney Stephen Daniels later told the court that it was from gambling on horse races.
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