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Que Pasa sentenced to ‘hard labour’

Que Pasa sentenced to ‘hard labour’

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Lawyers for Anthony “Que Pasa” Gellizeau have indicated that they will appeal his conviction and sentencing.{{more}}

Shortly after 11 a.m. yesterday at the High Court, Justice Wesley James sentenced Gellizeau 47, to 10 years imprisonment with hard labour, on each of two counts of money laundering.

Gellizeau was found guilty at the Serious Offences Court on March 9, 2012, in the largest money laundering case in the OECS.

“The sentence was one that was passed in accordance with the law. The judge was given all the guidance in terms of the sentence to be passed, the principles of sentencing, the balancing exercise, which he had to have consideration to and he passed a sentence he felt appropriate,” Gellizeau’s attorney, Shiraz Aziz told SEARCHLIGHT, minutes after the sentencing.

He added that they pushed for sentencing because there had been a long delay in the matter.

Gellizeau was found guilty of concealing on the yacht “Jotobin” on April 5, 2008, at Calliaqua, US$1,733,463 (EC$4,628,346),

which, in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, represents proceeds of criminal conduct. He was also convicted of bringing the money into St Vincent and the Grenadines on the yacht.

Gellizeau was charged along with Bermudian Winston Robinson, 70, who was also found guilty on the charges. A third man, Trinidadian Kent Andrews was found not guilty on all charges.

Robinson’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for October 9. He is being represented by St Lucian attorney Alberton Richelieu .

Gellizeau’s two 10-year sentences will run concurrently, which means that he will only serve 10 years in prison, with consideration taken for the time he has already spent on remand.

Gellizeau, after hearing the sentence, did not show much emotion, as he was placed in handcuffs. As he walked from the defendant’s dock, members of his family spoke with him briefly.

At the sentencing, Aziz told the court that the case was not a “run of the mill” type of case where money was found alongside drugs or drug paraphernalia.

“We’re dealing with money that was found on a boat and there is an assumption that this money must be criminal property and that is what the senior magistrate felt,” Aziz said.

At trial in the Serious Offences Court, Robinson told the court that the US$1.7 million seized aboard the yacht Jotobin in 2008 belonged to him. He told the court he had accumulated the money while working in the hotel and fishing industry in Bermuda, and had been saving the money in a hole since the 1980s.

On April 5, 2008, police officers and coastguard officials raided the Jotobin in Bequia waters. Andrews and Robinson were on board that vessel. The men were escorted on their vessel back to the Coastguard base at Calliaqua.

On that same date, Gellizeau was also anchored in Bequia on his boat “Orion”. He too was searched by police officers. He was then escorted on his boat back to the Coastguard base at Calliaqua.

After both vessels arrived at Calliaqua, another search was conducted, but nothing was found on board Orion and Gellizeau was released. It was while searching Jotobin, in the left cabin, just below the bow of the boat, that 44 packages containing US currency in the right cabinet and another 44 from the cabinet on the left side of the bow were found.

Aziz said, when one looks at the sentences for such type of cases, the sentences are lower than sentencing of cases where there is money and a large quantity of drugs.

The UK-based attorney asked the court to take into account that his client has been on remand for 16 months and noted that the case is not one in which people have been defrauded or duped out of their hard-earned money.

“This isn’t one of those cases where it’s a dishonest scheme or any sort of scheme designed to deliberately feast on some persons…,” Aziz said.

According to Aziz, his client was not met on board the vessel where the money was found. He said there is circumstantial and inferential evidence against his client, which he said the magistrate found against both defendants.

Aziz made mention of a drug conviction Gellizeau has, dated September 14, 1994, for which he said he had served a sentence.

“As far as I am concerned, having looked at my client’s record, it can be said that the time passing from 1994 to 2012, the defendant is not a career or habitual criminal. He’s a man who has been involved in working, employment and legit business..,” he said.

The lawyer said Gellizeau is not a “drain” on the economy, and noted that he has assisted by having employees in various businesses.

He further reiterated the call for his client’s medical needs to be looked at. On March 1, 2013, Aziz told the court that Gellizeau was in need of specialist treatment for back problems and other medical conditions.

Aziz also stated that until recently, Gellizeau was held in confinement.

“He wasn’t given any outside air or sun time. That matter was raised and Gellizeau was allowed one hour outside time…”

Aziz said had he had a Social Inquiry Report, he would have been able to advance even stronger on the effects of the custodial sentence.

He noted that his client would be a low-risk of re-offending, a low-risk of reconviction and a low-risk of harm. Aziz added that there ought not be a financial penalty, since there is still confiscation proceedings still outstanding.

He asked the court to impose the least possible sentence on his client.

In June 2008, several of Gellizeau’s assets were frozen by order of the court. The assets include bank accounts, Flexible Premium Annuities with CLICO and vehicles which were registered to him, his family members and associates. Assets belonging to Gellizeau and his relatives were also frozen in Trinidad and St Lucia.

That confiscation hearing is scheduled for October.

In handing down sentence, James said he had the benefit of reading most of the transcript of the trial and noted that he was not concerned about why or how the magistrate had come to her decision.

“My duty is to see what sentence is appropriate in this case. The sentence of the court is that you serve a sentence of 10 years imprisonment of hard labour on each count…” James ruled.

Attorney Mira Commissiong also appeared on Gellizeau’s behalf.

Senior Counsel Gilbert Peterson and Crown Counsel Sejilla McDowall appeared for the Crown.

When asked for a comment on the matter, Peterson declined. (KW)

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