After a dinghy was intercepted by police on Friday, two men pleaded guilty to charges including illegal entry while appearing before Senior Magistrate Tamia Richards during a video link proceeding on Monday and Tuesday, according to a Tuesday memorandum from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions issued by Government Information Services.
At around 4 p.m. Friday, police officers observed a rubber dinghy with one person aboard leave Baughers Bay and eventually disappear behind St. John as it entered United States Virgin Islands waters, according to the memo.
Two inspectors from the Marine Unit then waited in the channel between Flanagan Island and St. John, the memo stated. When the dinghy returned carrying another passenger, the officers flashed their siren to signal the dinghy to stop, but the vessel sped up and the officers chased it down, eventually intercepting it outside of The Bight at Norman Island, the memo recounted, adding that the two men were arrested.
Virgin Islander Tambu Frett was later charged with illegal entry, breach of curfew, and smuggling, while Bryan Boland, of the USVI, was charged with illegal entry and breach of curfew, the memo stated.
Police also searched the vessel and found $5,700 belonging to Mr. Frett and $6,020 belonging to Mr. Boland, according to the document.
In mitigation, attorney Stacey Abel, who represented Mr. Boland, said her client was not aware of this territory’s 14-day lockdown and made the passage so that he could be with his pregnant girlfriend for the duration, the memo recounted.
Mr. Frett initially did not plead, the document stated, “but after hearing Mr. Boland plead guilty and the facts of the case were read out, he asked for the charge to be put to him and he pleaded guilty.”
The memo does not name the charge or charges to which he pleaded guilty.
Acting Director of Public Prosecutions Tiffany Scatliffe-Esprit, who represented the Crown, said Mr. Boland should be “repatriated with urgency” back to the USVI, the memorandum explained.
As the US territory has a greater number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 and less stringent controls than this territory, “the actions of the defendants placed the entire territory into danger,” Ms. Scatliffe-Esprit added, according to the memo.
Ms. Richards, however, said public health officials here advised her that both men should be held in quarantine for 14 days, according to the memo.
She intends to deliver sentences on April 23, the memo stated.