The drug conspiracy trial of former premier Andrew Fahie has been postponed for the fifth time, and a sixth delay appears likely as lawyers tussle about chat messages and other evidence that could be shown to the jury.
The Miami trial is technically scheduled to start on Monday, but defence attorney Theresa Van Vliet filed a motion on Tuesday challenging prosecutors’ request to introduce text messages that Mr. Fahie exchanged with several people. The motion, which appears likely to delay the case further, takes aim at prosecutors’ plan to enter the full contents of Mr. Fahie’s Samsung Note 10+ phone into evidence.
Ms. Van Vliet wrote in the motion that the defence is not opposed to extracting certain chats and other excerpts from the phone for jurors to see.
“However, introduction into evidence, and consequently into the public record, of Mr. Fahie’s phone itself and a full extraction of everything on it is unnecessary, burdens the record with an enormous amount of data that is wholly irrelevant to this case, and is replete with information, to include matters relating to the health treatment of Mr. Fahie’s family members,” the attorney wrote.
The United States Department of Justice, citing the results of a Drug Enforcement Administration sting operation, alleges that the former premier conspired with others, including former BVI Ports Authority Managing Director Oleanvine Maynard and her son Kadeem Maynard, to facilitate the smuggling of cocaine into the US. Mr. Fahie was arrested on April 28, 2022, at Miami Opa Locka Executive Airport minutes after he was allegedly shown $700,000 of fake cash aboard a private jet that he believed was destined for the VI, prosecutors have said.
Ms. Maynard pleaded guilty to conspiring to import a controlled substance and is expected to testify against Mr. Fahie, but she has yet to be sentenced. In November, her son — who pleaded guilty to the same charge — was given a 57- month prison sentence. He is currently incarcerated at Miami Federal Detention Center, according to federal prison records.
In addition to opposing the full extraction of the phone, the defence asked Judge Kathleen Williams to also exclude Mr. Fahie’s full call log, full contact list, and chats with his VI government-employed assistant, who was not named in the motion.
The attorney also argued that chats with “R. Garaway,” a VI-based contractor building a home for Mr. Fahie, as well as a banker identified as “Dorrie D1,” who was administering the loan to finance the project, should be excluded from the evidence because they are personal and not relevant to the case. Additionally, the defence lawyer asked Judge Williams to allow into evidence statements that an individual identified in court documents only as “R.S.” allegedly made to Ms. Maynard regarding the jet with the $700,000 in fake cash.
Ms. Maynard reportedly told DEA agents that R.S. “told her that Fahie was suspicious of the confidential source and that once the airplane landed Fahie was going to call the local authorities in Tortola and have the confidential source arrested and have the money seized,” Ms. Van Vliet wrote in her motion.
Possible defence strategy
The lawyer further hinted at a defence Mr. Fahie may use at trial.
“Mr. Fahie will attack the government’s proof of his intent, which requires a subjective test,” she wrote.
Prosecutors previously asked to have R.S. statements allegedly made to Ms. Maynard excluded from the trial, though the judge has not yet ruled on that motion. Other chats In addition to the chats which Ms. Van Vliet wants excluded, prosecutors filed a second list of exhibits they hope to introduce, which include Mr. Fahie’s electronic chats with several other individuals.
Most are identified only by a first initial and a surname, and they include Ms. Maynard, “R. Sylvester,” “B. Sylvester,” “C. Maritza,” “D. Osbourne,” “M. Vanterpool,” Roberto Quintero, VI Police Commissioner Mark Collins, and the “National Security Council.”
Additionally, prosecutors hope to present jurors with calls and chats that the Maynards had with some of the same individuals.
Prosecutors also intend to show jurors images of Mr. Fahie, the Maynards, “R. Sylvester,” “A. Tarabay,” “M. El Khatib” and “W. Smith,” the list indicates.
Mr. Fahie’s trial was initially scheduled to start on July 18, 2022 — a date Judge Williams set on May 26, 2022, less than a month after his arrest.
However, Mr. Fahie’s defence counsel requested and received additional time to resolve a “technical issue” in accessing evidence provided by prosecutors. The materials were turned over to the defence on June 22, 2022, but some video and audio files remained “unreadable” and the defence wanted additional information regarding the confidential source used in the case, court documents show.
Then on July 7, 2022, Judge Williams reset the trial to begin on Jan. 17, 2023.
But on Dec. 6, 2022, Mr. Fahie requested an additional extension, noting that a Nov. 9 superseding indictment added a new count — “interstate and foreign travel in aid of racketeering” — in addition to the three he was already facing: conspiracy to import a controlled substance, conspiracy to engage in money laundering, and attempted money laundering.
In part because of the new charge, Ms. Van Vliet argued that Mr. Fahie needed additional time to prepare.
The Jan. 17, 2023, trial date was then reset for July 17, 2023.
But on June 20, 2023, after further delays due to technical issues and wrangling between the parties over the identity of a confidential source used in the case, both sides asked for more time. Judge Williams then set the trial to begin on Jan. 8, 2024.
However, five days before the case was to be heard, the judge postponed the matter until Monday of this week for reasons that weren’t disclosed in the available public record.
Then, on Monday, following a week that saw multiple sealed filings added to the case’s docket, the judge pushed the matter again, this time to Monday of next week.
However, a filing accompanying Ms. Van Vliet’s latest motion indicates that prosecutors will have until Feb. 6 to reply, which likely sets the stage for a further delay of the trial.
Mr. Smith reported this story from the United States.