Sun | Jun 16, 2024

American back home after getting suspended sentence for ammo possession in Turks and Caicos

Published:Saturday | May 25, 2024 | 11:00 AM
Bryan Hagerich talks to reporters after arriving at Pittsburgh International Airport Friday, May 24, 2024, in Pittsburgh. Hagerich was arrested in the Caribbean for illegally carrying ammunition and returned to the United States after receiving a suspended sentence of one year and a fine of several thousand dollars. (AP Photo/Matt Freed)

PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos Islands (AP) — An American arrested in the Caribbean for illegally carrying ammunition received a suspended sentence Friday, according to a spokesperson for the Turks and Caicos Islands, and his spokesman said he was flying back to the United States.

Bryan Hagerich was sentenced to one year, suspended and fined $6,700, said Kimo Tynes, communications director for Premier C. Washington Misick and the Turks and Caicos government.

Hagerich, who lives in rural Somerset County in southwestern Pennsylvania, is among five Americans to face similar ammunition-related criminal charges in Turks and Caicos while visiting the upscale tourist destination about 600 miles (965 km) southeast of Miami.

The British territory adopted stricter gun laws in 2022 following a jump in gun violence and weapons trafficking.

The US State Department has cautioned travellers to Turks and Caicos to be vigilant about keeping guns and ammunition out of their luggage.

His lawyer, Oliver A. Smith, said that if Hagerich doesn't get in trouble over the coming year he will not have to serve his sentence.

He paid the fine, Smith said.

“He was anxious to be back home, back to his two children. He's happy all this is behind him,” Smith said, adding that Hagerich was remorseful and had simply forgotten the ammunition was in his luggage when it was found as he was leaving Turks and Caicos.

On Friday afternoon, Hagerich's spokesperson Jonathan Franks texted The Associated Press to say he was on a flight to Pittsburgh with Hagerich and family members.

“Very grateful to the Court for giving two very special kids their dad back,” Franks wrote in a post to the social media platform X. “Even more grateful to the numerous TCI nationals who helped along the way.”

Franks told the AP the judge's decision “was exhaustively detailed and we appreciate the holistic approach she took to the case.”

In a statement, Misick said justice was served by the sentence.

“The Firearms Act includes consideration for exceptional circumstances and today's decision reflects our commitment to judicial independence along with upholding the law,” Misick said, adding that “the law stands firm and applies to everyone equally, without exception.”

Hagerich previously pleaded guilty to possessing 20 rounds of rifle ammunition, according to an April 26 news release from the Communications Directorate. He had been on bail.

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