Florida – A United States judge on Wednesday ruled that British Virgin Islands (BVI) Premier Andrew Fahie can be released on a US$500 000 bond pending his trial on cocaine trafficking conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy charges, despite a prosecutor’s arguments that he should face pre-trial detention.
Fahie would have to remain in monitored confinement in his daughters’ apartment, Judge Alicia Otazo Reyes of the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida ruled.
“I do believe that . . . the terms that I have imposed will ensure his appearance,” Otazo Reyes said as she rejected the prosecutor’s call for Fahie to remain in custody.
The 51-year-old premier of the British Overseas Territory was arrested last Thursday during a sting at the Miami-Opa-locka Executive Airport, along with managing director of the BVI Ports Authority Oleanvine Maynard. Maynard’s son, Kadeem Maynard, was arrested in St Thomas.
His attorney Theresa Van Vliet, in filing a pre-trial release request with the Miami federal court, said her client was not a flight risk as he had ties to the US where his two daughters live.
Fahie had requested his release, claiming he is immune from prosecution because he is the elected, constitutional head of government of the BVI. However, the Department of Justice said no such immunity exists because the BVI is not a sovereign nation.
US prosecutor Frederic Shadley, in a written request for Fahie’s pre-trial detention, contended that the accused had “repeatedly shown a complete and utter disregard for the rule of law, along with a willingness to obstruct justice”.
“He accepted bribes, committed crimes, worked with drug dealers, and agreed to pay bribes,” he wrote.
The prosecutor plans to appeal the decision to grant Fahie pre-trial release.
Fahie’s arraignment is scheduled for May 25, and his lawyer said he intended to plead not guilty at that time.
Fahie and the mother and son Maynard duo are accused of agreeing to facilitate the safe passage through BVI ports of tons of Colombian cocaine headed to Miami, in exchange for millions which would be funneled through different businesses and bank accounts to hide the money’s source.
Fahie and the elder Maynard, both of whom had been in Miami for the world’s largest cruise conference, were arrested while meeting with two undercover DEA agents posing as members of a Mexican cartel. They had met to collect a $700 000 cash advance on their deal, prosecutors allege. (CMC)