Thu | Jul 18, 2024

Defence wants lesser prison term for former BVI premier convicted of cocaine smuggling and money laundering

Published:Tuesday | June 18, 2024 | 8:54 AM
Former BVI premier Andrew Fahie.

MIAMI, CMC – Lawyers for the disgraced former premier of the British Virgin Islands (BVI), Andrew Fahie, are asking a federal court to sentence him to 10 years in prison for the role he played in a plot to smuggle huge quantities of cocaine through Tortola to the mainland United States.

Earlier this month, his attorney, Theresa Van Vliet, filed a motion asking that the date for his sentencing be postponed from June 25 to August 5, citing a scheduling conflict as the reason for the postponement.

This is not the first time Fahie's sentencing has been deferred.

Originally set for April 2024, the date was pushed to June, and now potentially further into the summer, drawing even more public and media scrutiny.

Fahie, 53, was convicted of cocaine smuggling and money laundering charges on February 8 this year.

He had been arrested on April 28, 2022, along with the BVI's Ports Authority managing director, Oleanvine Pickering Maynard, who pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday.

Her son, Kadeem Maynard, was arrested on St Thomas the same day and in a plea deal was sentenced to four years and nine months in prison.

Fahie faces the possibility of life in prison and a US$10 million fine.

But his lawyers are asking the judge to sentence him to a 10-year jail term.

The lawyers are claiming that the former premier had only a minor role in the plot, had no knowledge of a side deal between Maynard and government agents posing as drug runners, and did not actually import any cocaine.

“Mr Fahie objects to the suggestion that the offence involved the importation of cocaine. The manufactured scheme in this law enforcement sting called for purported drug dealers to use the port at Tortola in the BVI as a temporary storage facility for a substance that would ultimately be transported to Puerto Rico and then on to Miami, Florida.

“However, as there were no laboratory tests of any substance, there is no proof that a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine would have been transported from a place outside the United States (BVI) into a place inside the United States (Puerto Rico),” the lawyers argued in their motion filed earlier this month.

They also claimed he never actually had interactions with Lebanese Hezbollah operatives.

Prosecutors had said Pickering Maynard and her son had been falsely told they were dealing with the Sinaloa Drug Cartel and Lebanese terrorists in the deal.

Fahie's attorneys argued no such terrorists were involved with Fahie.

“The crimes of which Mr Fahie stands convicted did not involve the Lebanese individuals the Confidential Source identified as Hezbollah operatives. The mere suggestion of a wholly unsupported connection between Mr Fahie and members of a designated terrorist organisation is highly prejudicial and inflammatory and requires any reference to 'Hezbollah' to be removed from the PSR.”

Fahie, who had been a legislator since 1999, and his attorneys do not support the view that being an elected public official, his crime warranted a more severe sentence.

“Compared to both K Maynard and O Maynard, the degree to which Mr Fahie understood the scope and structure of the purported scheme was much more limited.

“Mr Fahie had no part in planning or organising the purported scheme, and he exercised no decision-making authority. The Maynards acknowledged that information was withheld from Mr Fahie. At best, the Government's evidence showed that Mr Fahie was more of a figurehead than an active participant, and although he stood to earn a large amount of money, he did not stand to earn as much as the participants who would be more permanent and who were involved in the 'side deal,” the lawyers argued.

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