Tue | Aug 22, 2017

Extradite them! - Eight, including cop and alleged scammer's mom, to face charges in US courts

Published:Thursday | March 9, 2017 | 3:00 AMLivern Barrett

A judge has declared that wire fraud and mail fraud, two of the charges typically filed by American authorities in lottery scam-related cases, are offences for which a Jamaican citizen can be extradited to the United States.

Parish Judge Vaughn Smith made the ruling in the Kingston Parish Court yesterday just before he ordered the extradition of eight Jamaicans, including a police constable, who are wanted in the US state of North Dakota on charges related to the lottery scam.

The orders come nearly two months after Justice Minister Delroy Chuck declared that there would be no delay in the signing of extradition orders. "All orders that come before me are signed within hours once I read them and everything is in order," Chuck told The Gleaner in January.

Constable Jason Jahalal, Alrick McLeod, O'Neil Brown, Xanu Ann Morgan, Dario Palmer, Kazrae Grey, Kimberly Hudson, and Dahlia Hunter are facing a 66-count indictment in North Dakota. They are each charged with one count of conspiracy and attempting to commit wire fraud, 48 counts of wire fraud, 15 counts of mail fraud, and one count of money laundering.

According to prosecutors in North Dakota, the eight were part of a criminal organisation led by another Jamaican - identified as Lavrick Willocks - that used an advance fee, or lottery scam scheme, to fleece 80 elderly victims of approximately US$5.6 million.

Their attorneys argued, during the extradition hearings, that the offences of mail and wire fraud were not known to Jamaican law and would, therefore, offend the country's extradition law. They asked the court to find that both offences were not extraditable.

However, Smith, in his ruling, rejected the argument. He acknowledged that mail and wire fraud were not offences in Jamaica but said that "the substance" of both charges is captured under the Larceny Act. Citing Section Three of the act, the parish judge said that the offences of larceny and simple larceny were "corresponding offences to wire fraud and mail fraud".

"They are extraditable offences as contemplated by the Extradition Act of 1991," he declared.

Smith also used excerpts of the witness statements given to American authorities by several cooperating witnesses and US law enforcement personnel to outline the alleged roles all eight Jamaicans played in defrauding their victims then moving the cash to Jamaica.

... Scamming allegedly done before mother

Affidavits detail how Lavrick Willocks' Montego Bay home was used - sometimes in the presence of Dahlia Hunter, his mother - as a base to telephone victims in the US and how the alleged ringleader directed underlings in the US to transport large sums of money to him in Jamaica.

The statements also included what US law enforcement personnel said were receipts from a number of local remittance agencies for money wired to Hunter and other persons connected to the Willocks organisation. Willocks waved his rights and was extradited in January.

One cooperating witness, in his affidavit to US authorities, claimed that Constable Jahalal was present in a Florida hotel room when another man was given US$35,000 - proceeds from the lottery scam - to transport to Jamaica and collected remittances sent by alleged co-conspirators in the US.

"The evidence suggests that he was a participant in this scheme rather than just an observer. He received transfers. He was present when large sums of money were being transferred," Smith reasoned.

Two other Jamaicans, radio personality ZJ Wah Wa, whose given name is Deon-ville O'Hara, and Sanjay Williams have been convicted in the US on charges related to the same scheme. Both are awaiting sentencing.