BVI News

DPP breaks silence after ongoing case involving US fisherman gains international attention

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), which has a policy not to comment on ongoing criminal cases, has broken its silence after a case involving an American fisherman began generating notable interest in international media.

The accused fisherman, Michael Foy, was charged after allegedly being caught in BVI waters with 7,000 pounds of fish on his vessel early last month. 

Since then, reports from some US media outlets have made insinuations that the DPP has padded charges on to the accused man’s case file. One media report from the Miami Herald in the United States said Foy was “initially detained for illegal entry into the British Virgin Islands, but at his June hearing he was also unexpectedly charged with illegal fishing”.

“Friends and family say vessel-monitoring reports with video and GPS obtained from the vessel verify that Foy is telling the truth, that he didn’t fish in BVI waters. But his lawyer and family said they couldn’t share the reports with the Miami Herald because of the ongoing legal proceedings,” the report further read.

DPP cites its ‘facts’

In a subsequent statement on July 17, the DPP’s Office said it found it ‘necessary’ to issue a statement on what it describes as “the facts of the case”.

The DDP’s Office said that Foy was caught in the territorial waters near Peter and Norman Islands by Her Majesty’s Customs on June 8 this year. Foy, who was said to be captain of the vessel, was in the company of Indonesian nationals, who could not speak any English and were holders of C-11 Transit Visas, which is only applicable to persons working on a fishing vessel.

The DPP’s Office said the accused man admitted to Customs Officers that he was the captain of the vessel and claimed that he received permission to enter the territory. 

Foy’s fish forfeited and resold

However, a probe by the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force confirmed that “permission was sought and denied by the Chief Immigration Officer as the borders of the Territory were closed as part of the territory’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic”, the DPP said.

As a consequence, Foy was charged with ‘illegal entry’, ‘operating an unregistered and unlicensed foreign fishing vessel’, and ‘failing to arrive at a Customs Port’.

“Pursuant to the 2010 Customs and Duties Management Act the vessel was detained and the court made an order for the fish to be forfeited and resold to benefit the government pursuant to section 75 of the Fisheries Act, 1997 as amended,” the DPP’s Office stated.

No bail

The accused man was not granted bail because he has no connection or legal status in the BVI.

“As the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, it is our duty to ensure that the law is properly enforced, the relevant evidence is placed before the court, and the duties of the disclosure are complied with. We believe that all accused, victims and witnesses have a right to a fair trial and act in the interest of justice. Therefore, we will not issue any further comments on this matter,” the DPP’s statement concluded.

Free Foy

Meanwhile, a woman who goes by the Facebook name Kelly K Foy, who claims to be the sister of the accused man is seeking his release. At the time of the post on June 25, she said the last time she spoke to her brother, she told her brother was worried as he did not understand why he was detained.

“He has been commercial fishing out of Puerto Rico with his US flag vessel and legal crew members from Indonesia for several years. The crew is stuck on the boat all alone, and I’m sure they are scared themselves. Their boss and captain have been taken away,” she wrote.

She added: “Tortola has been a frequent stop to gain Customs clearance for the crew and then they would return to PR to offload. The fish are then shipped mainly to the US to all reputable companies. He is part of the food supply chain, and his vessel is my family’s livelihood.”

“The charges he is facing are outrageous, and ultimately it may come down to forfeiture of his vessel which would be like taking his soul away from him. Additionally, he’s looking at over a year in prison and $500,000 in fines. All for doing exactly what he’s done every three to four weeks for years!” 

Attention from US senators

Meanwhile, other media reports are that Mr Foy’s story has attracted the attention of a few United States Senators who have reportedly have penned a letter to the Deputy Governor David Archer, Jr whose office has responsibilty over the local courts. 

Copyright 2020 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.

32 Comments

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  1. Lock him up says:

    If a non-US person would ‘by accident’ end up is US waters they would not let you go with a citation. It’s clear that this guys is part of a **** running network..**** him up

    Like 28
    Dislike 11
    • Other Side says:

      I hope once this Covid pandemic is over, this guy’s experience with the l**** BVI agencies stops tens of thousands of tourism visitors from setting foot on BVI soil ever again. I started singing that tune way back when Black Pearl was seized and then the guy simply dragging a lure headed for JVD. Utterly ridiculous, then the BVI fishermen always got fish pots all around Flanagan in U.S. waters.
      I know we’ll just skip right over from now on. Might visit Anegada just because of the Soares family, but that’s about it.

      Like 3
      Dislike 2
  2. Anonymous says:

    Here we go again, get caught illegally fishing in US waters and see where you end up and are treated.

    Like 27
    Dislike 6
    • Joshua says:

      He was nor caught fishing in BVI waters and they have the proof. He was located miles outside norman waiting after being told to proceed for instructions from His agent to enter to get a clearance. That vessel has US Government controlled satellite tracking to show where and when every fish was caught. People assuming he was fishing just because he was there and now a innocent man has been in prison for two month and denied bail for no good reason. I have brought thousands of tourist on charter boats to the BVI over a 15 YEARS AND WILL NEVER DO THAT AGAIN !!!!! I ALSO WILL MAKE SURE THE WHOLD WORLD KNOWS THE TRUTH!!!!

  3. systems says:

    IF THE GPS CORDINANCE IS SAYING THAT THE MAN CAUGHT FISHES OUSIDE OF BVI WATERS , THEN ALL CHHARGES SHOULD DROP IMMEDIATELY. NOT SURE WHETHER BVI PROSECUTER I SO EQUIP TO DEAL WITH GPS CORDINACE AND READ A BOAT GPS.

    Like 22
    Dislike 25
  4. systems says:

    IF THE GPS CORDINANCE IS SAYING THAT THE MAN CAUGHT FISHES OUSIDE OF BVI WATERS , THEN ALL CHHARGES SHOULD DROP IMMEDIATELY. NOT SURE WHETHER BVI PROSECUTER I SO EQUIP TO DEAL WITH GPS CORDINACE AND READ A BOAT GPS. GPS DONT LIE.

    Like 10
    Dislike 19
  5. Confused says:

    Can someone explain the logic of this statement, “Tortola has been a frequent stop to gain Customs clearance for the crew and then they would return to PR to offload.”

    Like 21
    Dislike 4
    • One love says:

      Why in your humble opinion they are not competent to deal with GPS coordinates. You and the Americans are smarter than everyone else so him being an American is it ok for him to come into B.V.I. waters and illegally fish?
      I hope he is found ****** and his boat is forfeited.

      Like 4
      Dislike 2
    • One love says:

      Seems like she is saying he fishes in B.V.waters and that should not be allowed.
      I hope he is found guilty and his bost is forfeited to the government and then goes on auction.

  6. CEMENT says:

    CAPTAIN SHOULD OF CLAIM MECHANICAL PROBLEMS AND STICK WITH THAT NO MATTER WAT. ANY PORT FOR A STORM HE WOULD BE A FREE MAN

    Like 3
    Dislike 3
  7. Maxwell says:

    Babylon the great feel it can manipulate any other Government which must yield or submit to It’s wishes.

    Like 9
    Dislike 3
  8. Chiquita says:

    Banana Republic at it again. The end is near for the BVI economy,desperate times require desperate measures. Good luck.

    Like 10
    Dislike 12
  9. Malcolm Khol says:

    Man made a mistake may be set up and is in jail for 3 months. Not gonna go on vacation there.

    Like 12
    Dislike 9
    • ..... says:

      Don’t come, millions of others will. We should ship him off to China.

      Like 8
      Dislike 7
    • The Nation says:

      Meanwhile BVI citizens up in st thomas awaiting criminal prosecution for the same thing…man think them in BVI Waters, US Coast Guard accusing them different. Let the Premier find out

      Like 14
      Dislike 1
      • Doh says:

        Yeah right. Fishing.

        Those fools were s******ng sh——-s and got caught. Sorry but your immigration and customs buddies can’t help you…

        Like 5
        Dislike 5
  10. vg says:

    h**l no they can’t read the GPS JAH KNOWS.

    Like 1
    Dislike 2
  11. We are the BVI says:

    Lock he up for fishing! Why no give he a metal for feeding people! Backward looking police. How about catch them boats running people back and forth to USVI at night for $1,000 a ride?? Better money for the BVI if you catch man with a boat load of fish? No justice in the BVI, it just about money an who you know. What’s new!?

    Like 10
    Dislike 6
  12. yo says:

    THis MS taking 7000Lbs of fish out of our waters each month? that aint frigging right. I dont think our own fisherman even take that much individually.

    Like 8
    Dislike 7
  13. Anonymous says:

    Is he a custom of doing this act but really they sure is fish alone he taking to the us?

    Like 1
    Dislike 1
  14. Retired says:

    Is the DPP is clearly wrong in this case?

    1) The Rebel Lady cleared in and out of Port Purcell in Road Harbour on 27/28 April 2020 with no problems.

    2) The Rebel Lady set its long lines in the Caribbean Sea in the area southwest of Puerto Rico in US fishing waters.

    3)According to US maritime law all US flag commercial fishing vessel with non-US citizens in the crew MUST clear in and out of a foreign(non-US)port before entering a US port to sell their catch. Rebel Lady complied with the US law on April 27/28 of 2020 by clearing in and out of the foreign port of Road Harbour, Tortola, BVI on thos dates. Lazurus was there clearing agents on those dates.

  15. CURFEW says:

    HOW ON EARTH CAN LAZARUS CLEAR A VESSEL IN/OUT WHILE THE COUNTRY IS ON LOCKDOWN, ALL THE BORDERS ARE CLOSED AND WE HAD 24 HOURS CURFEW?
    NOBODY IS ALLOWED TO EVEN THROW A LINE FROM A 30FT SAILING BOAT WITHOUT OBTAINING A LICENCE FOR IT TO BE A FISHING VESSEL AND THE CAPTAIN HAS TO APPLY FOR A PERSONAL FISHING LICENCE TOO

  16. Other Side says:

    Nothing. You get nothing. Never have. So you’re a l***, plain and simple.

  17. John Duberg says:

    FREE MIKE

    The government of BVI will find, that once they investigate the issues, the fish were caught legally and not in BVI’s waters, the illegal entry charge is some miscommunication or misunderstanding. Michael Foy has been in prison for 48 days, enough is enough.

    FREE MIKE

    Like 5
    Dislike 1
  18. Other Side says:

    So a ferry captain and crew is arrested for drugs and they’re just let go. This guy is treated like dirt for simply fishing SW OF PR! That’s enough of the BVI’s. I think a campaign to kill the golden goose of tourism is in the offing. We certainly won’t be over anytime soon, and we’ll be spreading the word. Like Black Pearl. Like the man dragging a line headed to Jost and paying a $56,000.00 fine and spending months in jail. For nothing. Greedy little politicians and fish cops. You’re done.

    Like 4
    Dislike 1
  19. Ruth says:

    Free Michael Foy , he is an honest hard working man. Following the law is priority to him. This is a total mistake.

  20. Fact-specific says:

    If he is right, of course, he should receive quick justice. The fact he was arrested and detained for so long, does not seem to support that. If he was fishing illegally, with slave/indentured workers, we would be best srerved by making an example of him with stiff sentencing. The stuff stated here by family and friends about tourism is counterintuitive. Our high end tourists will appreciate taking a stand against looting our oceans, exploiting poor Indonesians and unsustainable fishing depleting our oceans

  21. Linda Busse says:

    Responding to:Fact-specific, August 12,2020

    The Indonesian Crew are not slave/indentured workers that are being exploited. They work for Mike Foy by choice.Mike provides gainful employment to these men and they use their earnings to support their families.

    Your well intended concern would be better served when directed at the current living conditions of the Indonesian Crew.

    As Mike rots in a cell, they too are innocent men that suffer incarceration.They are sequestered by BVI Government and forced to live on the seized vessel Rebel Lady, since June 8,2020.

    Legitimate Concerns for the Indonesian Crew are:
    1. Lack of safety in the hands of government
    2. Lack of fresh water and food
    3. Lack of sanitation
    4. Lack of contact with family

    This fateful event rose rapidly from a communication misunderstanding to a false imprisonment and property seizing scandal.

    FREE MIKE FOY.

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