Tue | Aug 11, 2020

Wah Wa's accomplices targeted

Published:Monday | June 16, 2014 | 12:00 AM

LOCAL LAW-enforcement authorities revealed yesterday that they are investigating 16 Jamaicans who have been indicted in the United States (US), along with popular radio disc jockey ZJ Wah Wa, for an alleged lottery-scam operation that duped several Americans out of millions of dollars.

In addition to a criminal probe being spearheaded by the Lottery Scam Task Force (LST), the Financial Investigations Division (FID) is now preparing to go after the assets and other properties owned by these individuals using the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The names of all 16 were listed in an amended indictment handed down against ZJ Wah Wa - given name Deon-ville Antonio O'Hara - and made public by the US Justice Department last month. The indictment charges them with several fraud-related offences and police investigators say they could be extradited to the US to stand trial.

Inspector Vernon Ellis, who heads the LST, told The Gleaner that his detectives are now seeking to build airtight cases against the popular radio personality and the 16 individuals for their alleged involvement in the lottery scam.

"We want when we are ready to bring charges that we have everything," Ellis said.

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He, however, lamented the move by the Justice Department to release the names, saying this has presented a major challenge for his investigators.

At the same time, sources close to the FID revealed yesterday that the agency has begun to build "financial profiles" on O'Hara and his alleged accomplices.

O'Hara was arrested in the US state of Florida earlier this year after he was indicted by a federal grand jury in the state of North Dakota. According to the amended indictment released by prosecutors, he is facing charges of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, wire fraud, and money-laundering conspiracy.

If convicted, O'Hara faces a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years per count, a possible fine, mandatory restitution, and possible forfeiture of property.