Pastor fined for $1.1 million cash transaction
Ray Foster, the Westmore-land-based pastor who pleaded guilty to breaches of the Proceeds of Crime Act, concerning a cash transaction that exceeded J$1 million, was fined when he appeared in the Montego Bay Resident Magistrate's Court yesterday.
The 44-year-old Foster, who had previously pleaded guilty to the offence when he appeared in court on October 21, was ordered to pay a fine of $250,000 or spend 30 days behind bars. He was also ordered to submit his fingerprints to the police.
During Foster's sentencing hearing, his attorney, Martyn Thomas, told Resident Magistrate Sandria Wong-Small that the defendant had been ignorant of legislation, which had been passed in 2013, making it a crime to conduct cash transactions in excess of $1 million.
"The persons who are responsible for the amendment (to the legislation) are to be blamed, because the public was not aware of it. He (Foster) can account for how he came into possession of the funds," said attorney Thomas.
But RM Wong-Small noted that Foster's social enquiry report, which had been requested to help in determining his sentence, had given a mixed view of the defendant.
"His report is a mixed report, and he is regarded with scepticism by some, and others hold him in high esteem," said Wong-Small, who added that Foster had a previous conviction in another jurisdiction.
The pastor, who heads a congregation in Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland, was arrested and charged on September 18, after a police raid was carried out at his home where receipts were found showing a transaction for the purchase of a 2010 Toyota Yaris motor car amounting to $1.1 million.
Further investigations led to an operation on September 23 where a raid was carried out at a business place, during which a receipt book was found with the carbon copies of the receipts found at Foster's home.