Magistrate Tamia Richards on March 29 convicted Kemel Wilson and Alberto Valera of three offences in connection to the seizure of more than $850,000 on June 16, 2020 at sea, according to a March 30 press release from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Messrs. Wilson and Valera were convicted of possession of proceeds of criminal conduct, failing to declare monies to Her Majesty’s Customs, and illegal entry, and Mr. Wilson was also convicted of failing to comply with an order, the ODPP stated.

Though the ODPP added that Ms. Richards ordered for $850,370 to be forfeited to the Crown “in addition to convicting the defendants on all complaints,” two sources with knowledge of the proceedings disputed this account, claiming instead that Ms. Richards had not yet ordered the forfeiture but would likely address the issue at the sentencing hearing scheduled for May.

ODPP and Magistrates’ Court officials did not respond to requests for clarification by press time yesterday.

The money was recovered after officers from the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force and the Customs Department spotted the defendants while on sea patrol near St. Thomas, the ODPP stated.