A St Thomas man who was caught in BVI waters with $200,522 cash has been sentenced to 12 months at Her Majesty’s Prison and must pay more than $10,000 in fines.
Adriel Kadeem Richardson was slapped with the penalties after pleading guilty to ‘illegal entry’, ‘failing to declare monies to Customs’, and ‘possession of proceeds of criminal conduct’ when he appeared before Magistrate Ayanna Baptiste-DaBreo on Wednesday.
Breakdown of sentence
The offender was given 30 days imprisonment and a $1,000 fine for illegal entry. If he fails to pay the fine, he will spend 60 days in prison.
Richardson was also slapped with a 12-month custodial sentence for being in possession of proceeds of criminal conduct.
He was then slapped with a $10,000 fine for failing to declare monies to Customs. He will spend another six months in prison if that fine is not paid.
Magistrate DaBreo said sentences are to run concurrently (at the same time). However, she ordered that the default sentences run consecutively (one after the other) if the fines are not paid by May 11 next year.
‘I am sorry‘
Leading up to the sentence, Richardson had pleaded for mercy.
“I made a mistake and it is hurting my family. I am really sorry. I want to be given a second chance,” he said.
He also informed the court that he has enrolled in a college and is also a soon-to-be father.
“I am still young, and I have a bright future, and I want to put this behind me,” he told the court.
We won’t fight for the cash
In the meantime, Richardson’s attorney Leroy Jones told the court that his client was not interested in having a forfeiture hearing for the money.
“The defendant does not intend to fight for the money,” Jones said.
As such, the Crown made an oral application for the forfeiture of the funds, and the court ruled that the funds were now the property of the territory.
What the court heard happened
The court heard that on September 6, members of the Marine Unit of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force were on sea patrol when they noticed a vessel.
The complainant, along with the boat captain was observed coming from the direction of St John in the neighbouring US Virgin Islands heading to Tortola.
The court heard that the boat was kept under surveillance as it passed the nearest port of entry in West End and continued towards Cane Garden Bay on Tortola.
The Marine Unit subsequently signalled the boat to stop and a search uncovered the large quantity of cash which was being carried in a grey backpack.
When questioned on the discovery, Richardson reportedly said the cash belonged to his father who is a businessman in the British Virgin Islands.
He and the captain were subsequently arrested and charged.
Not his first reported run-in with the law
Notably, Richardson was also charged in the USVI with a similar offence last October, media reports have indicated.
According to the Virgin Islands Daily News, on October 31 last year, Richardson was among four men charged with giving false information in relation to a quantity of cash they were transporting through the St Thomas ports.
The quartet – Deondre Ward, Ashan Beazer, Jkwon Frett and Richardson – were slapped with a single count of making a false statement.
It is reported that the men were also suspected to be part of a drug ring, and between them, had more than $40,000 in their possession.
In the case of Richardson, the media reports said he had only declared $2,000 when he arrived at a port in the USVI.
However, it is reported that he was later found to have $15,418 in his possession. It is not clear what became of that case.