Defense lawyer Stephen Daniels has urged a senior magistrate not to imprison two natives of Trinidad who were caught leaving the British Virgin Islands (BVI) with a combined total of US$67,538.
He said the court should instead ‘hit the pockets’ of his clients Rachelle Emrith and Allan Birju.
The defence lawyer also argued that the case involving the Trinidadians is on a much smaller scale, when compared to another matter involving a Puerto Rican man, Felix Colon.
The Puerto Rican was held in BVI waters with $359,950 that is said to be proceeds from the sale of illegal drugs. He spent nearly two years in prison after he recently was convicted of acquisition, possession, or use of proceeds of criminal conduct.
In response to those arguments, Senior Magistrate Tamia Richards said: “I don’t know if a fine will meet the aims and purposes of sentencing [in relation to the Trinidadians]… I am not convinced at this point.”
“I am going to hit them [with a penalty]. I’m going to take all I can,” Senior Magistrate Richards further said especially in reference to Ms Emrith, who the prosecution described as being ‘more culpable’.
Man was pressured
The court, in the meantime, heard that Mr Birju played a small role in the attempted smuggling of the funds through Terrence B Lettsome International Airport.
“Based on the utterance of Ms Emrith, she played a leading role… She involved Mr Briju,” said Senior Crown Counsel Garcia Kelly.
He added that the woman ‘pressured’ Mr Birju to participate in the crime. “His role wasn’t significant,” the prosecutor said.
He also announced that a decision had been made to drop the two charges to which the two Trinidad natives had pleaded not guilty. Those charges are: assisting another to retain the benefit of the proceeds of criminal conduct, and engagement in smuggling.
The discontinuation of those matters has paved the way for Senior Magistrate Richards to sentence the duo on July 25 for the offences to which they recently admitted.
Ms Emrith, 44, will be sentenced for possession of proceeds of criminal conduct, failing to declare monies to Customs, and engagement in smuggling.
Mr Birju, on the other hand, will only be sentenced for being in possession of proceeds of criminal conduct.
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