Tue | Oct 23, 2018

J'can man convicted on drug charges in US seeks new trial

Published:Tuesday | September 11, 2018 | 12:00 AMLivern Barrett/ Senior Gleaner Writer

A JAMAICAN man who is facing a long prison sentence in the United States (US) for leading a drug syndicate that paid a flight attendant and former Jamaican beauty queen to transport kilograms of cocaine has filed a legal motion seeking to have his conviction quashed or a new trial.

However, the US Attorney's Office for the Central District of California, in a swift response, has urged the court to reject the application filed by Gaston Brown.

Brown, 39, was found guilty of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, possession with intent to distribute cocaine, unlawfully using a means of identification in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime, using a counterfeit access device and aggravated identity following a three-day trial in a California federal court in February.

He is scheduled to be sentenced on October 10.

US$3m in cocaine

Brown's trial included testimony from Marsha Gay Reynolds, second runner-up in the 2008 Miss Jamaica World beauty contest and a former flight attendant with US-based airline JetBlue. Reynolds admitted that on March 18, 2016 Brown gave her a suitcase loaded with 26 kilograms of cocaine, valued at US$3 million, to smuggle onto a plane at the Los Angeles International Airport.

She pleaded guilty to drug charges in 2016 and was released from prison earlier this year after a judge sentenced her to time served.

However, according to court documents obtained by The Gleaner, Brown contends that during his trial, prosecutors failed to present sufficient proof, which a rational juror could use to conclude, beyond a reasonable doubt, that he was guilty of all the charges filed against him.

The document did not indicate the basis for Brown's assertion, but pointed to legal authorities in which US federal courts have found that motions for acquittal do not need to state the grounds upon which they are based.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com