United States prosecutors are arguing that Premier Andrew Fahie and BVI Ports Authority Managing Director Oleanvine Maynard should remain in detention pending their trial, but Mr. Fahie received a $500,000 bond offer yesterday. Above is the courthouse where Mr. Fahie and Ms. Maynard appeared on Friday. (Photo: PROVIDED)

In a surprise decision, Premier Andrew Fahie received a $500,000 bond offer following a Miami court hearing yesterday morning, the Miami Herald reported yesterday.

Federal court Judge Alicia Otazo-Reyes rejected prosecutors’ argument that Mr. Fahie would flee the United States if released before his trial, and said instead that he could remain in his daughters’ Miami home if he and his family surrender their travel documents, he wears an ankle bracelet, and he pays a $500,000 corporate surety bond, according to the Herald.

The report did not state whether his co-defendant Oleanvine Maynard, managing director of the BVI Ports Authority, was released on bond, and Mr. Fahie’s attorney did not respond to requests for comment.

Reuters subsequently reported that United States prosecutors planned to appeal the decision.

Shortly before Mr. Fahie and Ms. Maynard were scheduled to appear in court yesterday, a US attorney filed a motion for pre-trial detention that exposed new details about the allegations and argued that the defendants should remain in custody, citing their flight risk and alleged danger to the community.

Arguing for Mr. Fahie’s detention, the attorney, Juan Antonio Gonzalez, noted that the sentences for his charges — which could include a life sentence if convicted — are compelling reasons for him to abscond before trial.

Mr. Fahie, Ms. Maynard, and her son Kadeem Maynard are charged with conspiracy to import five kilograms or more of cocaine and conspiracy to launder money.

‘Not my first rodeo’

In his motion, Mr. Gonzalez recounted alleged conversations between Mr. Fahie and a confidential source posing as trafficker interested in setting up a drug route through the Virgin Islands.

When the source warned Mr. Fahie not to discuss drug business over the phone, the premier allegedly responded by touting his experience in such dealings, according to the motion.

“He told the [confidential source] that when people provided him with large amounts of cash, and that cash came wrapped in bank wrappers, he would always remove, tear up, and discard the wrappers because the banks could trace the currency based on the stamps or codes on the wrappers,” the document states. “Impressed by Fahie’s criminal acumen, the CS asked, ‘So this is not your first rodeo right, I can tell… .’ Fahie responded, ‘Oh no, no, no, not my firstrodeo at all. Not my first rodeo at all.’”

The attorney further alleged, “[Mr. Fahie] then laughed and went on to describe his prior criminal activity.”

Detention request

Mr. Gonzalez sought pre-trial detention for both Mr. Fahie and Ms. Maynard, writing that neither have significant ties to the prosecuting district, and both have the means and a strong incentive to abscond, as they could face more than a decade in prison if convicted.

“If bond is granted, it is a near certainty that the defendant will never again be seen in the Southern District of Florida,” Mr. Gonzalez wrote, referring to Mr. Fahie.

The defendants would face a 10-year minimum sentence if convicted on the drug trafficking conspiracy, and estimated sentencing guidelines range from about 19 to 24 years, according to the prosecution’s filing.

For money laundering conspiracy, they could face sentencing guidelines ranging from 24 years to life, depending on “the applicability of certain sentencing enhancements,” the filing states.

“Through the course of this conspiracy, it has become clear that Fahie is engaged in corruption and criminal activity at the highest levels,” Mr. Gonzalez wrote. “He has accepted bribes, he has agreed to pay bribes, he has conspired to import thousands of kilograms of a dangerous controlled substance, he has admitted to working with known drug dealers in the BVI, and he has expressed a willingness to inquire about the acquisition of firearms from a Senegalese contact – on behalf of the Sinaloa Cartel.”

Regarding his flight risk, the prosecution said, “Through this investigation, it has become clear that Fahie is corrupt to the core,” he wrote. “His actions lead to only one conclusion: that Fahie believes he is above the law.”

He made similar claims about Ms. Maynard’s risk, stating, “She is an admitted associate of a group of criminals in the BVI who claim to be Hezbollah operatives involved in criminal activity on Tortola. Maynard’s planned drug distribution, and the violence it would inevitably create, demonstrate why Maynard is such a danger to the community, and should be detained on that basis.”

Immunity?

Mr. Fahie’s attorney Theresa Van Vliet argued this week that Mr. Fahie is immune from arrest and detention in the US by virtue of his position as VI premier.

Yesterday, she filed related documents in support of that position, including a May 3 “diplomatic note” to the US Office of International Affairs purporting to be from the Premier’s Office.

The document stated that Mr. Fahie is the VI premier and requested his “immediate return and free passage” back to the territory.

“The Office of the Premier of the Virgin Islands hereby further confirms that it is the official position of the government of the Virgin Islands that the Honourable Andrew A. Fahie, as the most senior member of the Cabinet, holds high ranking office in the Virgin Islands and on that basis possess [sic] immunity as recognised by international and domestic law, akin to heads of government immunity,” the letter states, adding that Mr. Fahie had such immunity at the time of his Miami arrest last Thursday and he has not waived it.

However, Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley said yesterday afternoon that the letter was sent by a “rogue public officer” without his knowledge or the knowledge of Premier’s Office Permanent Secretary Dr. Carolyn O’Neal Morton and does not represent the VI government’s official position.

Ms. Van Vliet’s filing also includes an April 23 “protocol request” relating to Mr. Fahie’s “official travel to Miami,” and a 2002 judgment from the International Criminal Court about an arrest warrant involving an official from the Republic of the Congo.

For his part, Mr. Gonzalez has argued that there is no merit to Ms. Fahie’s immunity claim.

“The Executive Branch of the United States government does not recognise the British Virgin Islands as a sovereign state, or that Fahie is entitled to any immunity from this prosecution. Accordingly, the defendant does not and cannot enjoy immunity as a head of state or government,” Mr. Gonzalez wrote in a Tuesday filing.

Friday hearing

Mr. Fahie and Ms. Maynard were previously recommended for pre-trial detention during a Friday hearing before US Magistrate Jonathan Goodman.

Although Mr. Maynard did not attend that hearing, he was also recommended for pre-trial detention, according to court documents filed last Thursday in the Southern District of Florida.

Mr. Maynard was arrested in St. Thomas that day and ordered to be transferred to Florida to undergo court proceedings, according to documents filed in the US Virgin Islands District Court.


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