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Jamaican alleged scammers to be tried in US until others extradited

Published:Thursday | May 11, 2017 | 12:00 AM
This combination of April 2017 photos provided by the Burleigh County Sheriff's Department in Bismarck, North Dakota, shows (from top row left ) O'Neil Brown, Kazrae Gray, Kimberly Hudson and Dahlia Hunter and from bottom row left are: Jason Jahalal, Alrick McLeod, Xanu Morgan and Dario Palmer. The eight suspects made their initial appearance Thursday, April 27, at federal court in Bismarck, N.D. – AP Photo

A federal judge in North Dakota has given the go ahead for 10 people to be tried on lottery scam charges instead of waiting until the other suspects are extradited from Jamaica.

However, the Associated Press says a trial date has not yet been set.

Among those to be tried is Lavrick Willocks, who authorities allege was the mastermind of the scam that bilked at least 90 mostly elderly Americans out of more than US$5.7 million.

In January, Willocks pleaded not guilty to 66 counts of conspiracy, wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering.

Eight other accused facing the same charges were last month extradited from Jamaica and have since pleaded not guilty.

Another accused, who is a US has citizen, pleaded not guilty in August 2015.

Assistant US Attorney Clare Hochhalter yesterday asked US District Judge Dan Hovland to allow the trial to proceed without waiting for the remaining defendants, saying the victims deserve justice in a case that has already dragged on for more than five years.

He noted that 12 elderly victims have died while waiting for the matter to be heard.

Four of the five other accused in the case are still fugitives.

The fifth is in custody in Jamaica awaiting extradition.