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May 18, 2012

Samantha Carlos: Innocent, Free and Victim of the System

Robbers escaped with over two hundred thousand dollars in a heist at Heritage Bank in Orange Walk on April fifth, 2011. Two of three men, entered the bank and asked to speak to the loan officer, while the other waited outside. They were escorted to the office of Bank Manager, Samantha Carlos, who was held at gunpoint and ordered to hand over the keys to the vault. The robbers escaped and the case took the headlines over every newspaper and televised newscast.  From the very beginning of the investigation, the robbery was suspected to have been an inside job and Carlos was arrested as a suspect along with Ricky Valencia, Harold Valencia and Noel Usher. Ricky and Usher were both murdered before the case made it to trial and on Thursday, Carlos and Harold were freed of the charges at the end of a preliminary inquiry. No evidence against Carlos was ever tendered in the disclosure, but the former bank manager and beauty queen had not only lost her job, she lost her reputation. Today News Five’s Jose Sanchez travelled to Orange Walk Town and spoke to Carlos about the turns her life has taken.

 

Jose Sanchez Reporting

This athlete and Muffles College graduate was encouraged by a friend to enter beauty pageants. She was the Queen of the Bay in 1999 after winning the title of Miss Orange Walk.

 

Samantha Carlos, Exonerated of Charges

“They told me that I had to represent the district in the Queen of the Bay competition in Belize City. So I was sent there and I had more brains, I guess and I won that. The following month I won Miss Rain Forest in Cayo. I wasn’t allowed to go up for Miss Belize because I held one too many crowns they said. So it was just something I was tossed in, I guess. I was offered a position at Heritage Bank as a teller—it was Alliance Bank then. So I just work my way up as any other staff. I went from being a teller to head teller to doing customer service. From customer service, I was sent to open the branch in Belmopan.”

 

Because of her work ethic she moved up quickly in the bank.  She left a beauty queen but would return to her hometown as a bank manager. But on April fifth, her life would change once again and throw her into the spotlight. During a routine visit by a customer, her bank was robbed.

 

Samantha Carlos

“It was clack, clack, and I had a gun at my head. All I asked for was that they didn’t hurt anybody at the bank. I told them we would cooperate; just don’t hurt anybody. They walked me out of my room, they put the other young lady on the floor, led me at the vault. Of course I couldn’t open the vault solely; I had to come back for the other set of keys that the young lady had. I was taken back to the vault. I was assaulted in my face because I couldn’t push the key into the door—I guess it was fright or fear, I guess. To be someone bold and brave, it is hard to work under extreme pressure when a gun is in the back of your head. So I managed to open the vault. I was forced to open the actual compartment itself then I was shub to the ground and stamped. It’s something that I, nobody knows that I was actually the one that sent the distress signal to the boss; my immediate supervisor. The bank has policies that if you are ever under distress or something is wrong, you must alert your immediate supervisor with the distress code. And while on the ground with the people still in the bank, I sent that code. I was the one that got up and quickly ran as I saw them flee; I ran and pushed the panic button so that the authorities and the police could be alerted too.”

 

Jose Sanchez

“Sam at what point did you realize you went from being the victim to a robbery suspect?”

 

Samantha Carlos

Samantha Carlos

“I don’t think I ever suspected they would have held me because a lot of things happened that day in the bank that the police didn’t report. They didn’t report that the bank vehicle was taken from the bank without my permission; they didn’t report a lot of significant things that happened that day. So it caught me by surprise actually when I saw the team of police men standing in front of my door the Thursday morning—the Thursday at one o’clock. And I asked why they came and they said they were going to take me for questioning at the station. Little did I know it wasn’t only questioning; that they were charging me for conspiracy. They said that they believed that I was the one that planned it.”

 

After being taken to Corozal without knowledge of her family, she was eventually reunited with them after a lawyer intervened.

 

Samantha Carlos

“I wasn’t given any phone call, no tea, no water. The police said if you want yo water, you wouldn’t be here. I was cavity searched; I was totally embarrassed. I was interrogated by all sorts of men. Fitzroy Yearwood; he did the worse. My personal life has nothing to do with this. But to let the police come to your face and tell you about your personal life—your, you know. All of this was thrown in my face; that they know that I am not into that part of life and that I affiliate with gang people and that he knows that at every establishment that I’ve worked, I’ve robbed. It was devastating to me to think that these people thought so low of me.”

 

She was remanded on April eleventh, 2011 and after she made that  perp walk with her head high as she would then be escorted to the Central Prison.  She was fired from the bank that same day.

 

Jose Sanchez

“That day you were taken over to the court, those people who were walking with you—the Valencia family—did you know any of them? Have you spoken to them? talked to them on the phone or anything of that sort?”

 

Samantha Carlos

“I will be honest with you, I wasn’t even aware that the people that were held in my cell, the other two females, were jointly charged as people involved in this thing. When I sat in that cell and they were talking and they were talking to the people in the other cells that’s when i realized they were a family.”

 

Jose Sanchez

She voluntarily handed over her cell phone.  a month later on May 13 2011, she received bail. The charges were withdrawn one year later, this week.

 

Samantha Carlos

“After I have been given my disclosure, the first question: where in this disclosure is my name mentioned. Nobody called my name, nobody saw me, nobody said anything to incriminate me. My name was never even mentioned anywhere in that disclosure.”

 

Jose Sanchez

“Coming out now, there is cloud hanging over your head. How do you move forward now that the case is over?”

 

Samantha Carlos

“Walking on the street, I can see that people are talking about me. Even at the bank, I went to try and make arrangements to see if my parents could try and start paying the loan because I have a mortgage over the house. I wasn’t allowed to enter into the office to speak to the loans officer. I was interviewed and interrogated in the lobby; in front of everybody. So the pressure that I took and the stigma and all of that, it impacted me psychologically—deeply and emotionally. They were days that I wouldn’t want to come outside and take a walk.”

 

But these days Samantha is taking a walk even an occasional ride. Unable to get employment because of the damaged reputation, her family helped her to start a business in the yard—Sam’s Meat Shop.

 

Samantha Carlos

“People lose that credibility in you. I know that it is going to be hard for me to start over, but it is something that I am willing to do. And I guess, being the type of person that I am, I am sure I will make it as long as my family keeps supporting me and I don’t forget the creator brought me here. So far I have managed to open a small meat shop. Opened it in March and I am trying to turn over some money to at least try to sustain myself—pay the light and the water and have food on the table at least. So it is going to be hard, I know, but it’s a challenge that I will take and I  just face it because I need to get my life back together.”

 

So far Sam has developed her own business plan and she will make it one step at a time. Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

 

Carlos says with God and her family she believes that she will be able to get back solidly on her feet. 

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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33 Responses for “Samantha Carlos: Innocent, Free and Victim of the System”

  1. RedBwai says:

    Some advice to this young lady…get yourself a top notch lawyer…and SUE!! SUE the police department and sue the bank for defamation of character, slander, wrongful termination…sue them for all u can get…let them pay for the physical, emotional and psychological distress they have caused you and still going through this very day. Dont you ever think it ends here…fight for the little dignity you have left….dont let this go jus like that…i applaud this young lady she seems very sincere and strong at heart…you walk with your head held high in the face of judgement…

  2. Elias says:

    Go deh Sam don’t give, believe me God will help u tru this.

  3. Storm says:

    Our police and DPP DESPERATELY need training and education in how to solve a crime with actual EVIDENCE. “Suspicion” is never a substitute for evidence in our system of law, and it never should be.

    I feel police and prosecutors make fatal mistakes when they [a] jump to conclusions before impartially gathering all the available facts, and [b] fail to investigate thoroughly and preserve evidence.

    Was this robbery and inside job? If it was an “inside job,” who was the inside person? Nobody knows now, and presumably we never will.

    Hopefully she can rebuild her life, and hopefully — one day — we will have better trained people to investigate and prosecute crimes in the Jewel.

  4. reatph says:

    sue the police department and sue all of the individual police officers that was involved seperately.

  5. Eye in the Sky says:

    Once you have a good lawyer that you pay with your 200,000 you can get away with bank robbery, murder and drug dealing. That is life in Belize.

  6. jose gomez says:

    modern law dictates that the law in Belize states as follows:justice is: gob is rite and u are wrong”

  7. RadicalBelizean says:

    What about compensation for the woman? Surely someone needs to pay for this injustice. I hope you are speaking with Mr Bradley girl. You know how Kruffy are. They believe every nonsense they hear. Question nothing, and even though its proven that you were not involved they already have you guilty as charged until you died. So if I were you I would be looking for a handsome little package for ruining my reputation. It surely will pay off the mortgage that hey were acting foolish about.

    Good Luck, Sam. I also hope you can get some psychological help for the trauma of having a gun held to your head. Keep your chin-up, God bless you always.

  8. Swamp Dragon says:

    Dem Police need “higher learning”. I think the cops in the states most have college level education. Many have psychology degree as well. Bad cops all over but too many in Belize.

  9. alley cat says:

    Not too quick to yell injustice here, I think if da so da naily so…

  10. CEO says:

    If you are telling the truth and you are absolutely sure that you have a case I would sue everyone of them (bank, police, and the GOB…) that was involved wuith the investigation!

    Think about it this was your name is already mud so it cannot get any worse so why not go after them.

  11. ny says:

    Belize is a joke of a country when it comes to crime and punishment, and this is why many more innocent people will die in the streets. With that said, this young lady should sue everyone that defamed her character, starting with the police department all the way down to her former employer. These people have tarnished and destroyed her, here in the US a good lawyer would have taken up your case and would have won you millions of dollars to compensate you for all of your troubles. This is why the DAs here in the states which are the equivalent to Bze’s DPP only bring cases to court when they have evidence because not doing so would cause their cities a lot of money from defamation of character lawsuits.

  12. joe lopez says:

    Am sorry what happen to this girl, our police officers in belize need more outside training in how to conduct investigations like in this case. But sometimes is not the regular police. officers is the head of the department, actually I used to be a police officer in the country of belize and I resigned due that the law system in belize is very poor especially when conducting investigation on robberies and murders!

  13. jose says:

    Sue the bank and the authorities responsible for making a wrong Charge.

  14. FAIR JUSTICE says:

    Reading this news breakes my heart. I can imagin how she feels. If i was Sam i would sue the government and the Bank big time. She needs compensation for the damages that they have done to her publicly. She has been scarred for life by society. They have branded her as a Bank Robber. Even though her name was cleared the damage has already been done. Her reputation is tainted for life. This is so unfair. I hope that an attorney would be willing to take up her case. SHE NEEDS COMPENSATION. GINORMOUS COMPENSATION.

    As for the police what can i say about them. They are the dumbest people in the work force. they go after the wrong people. And they play like if they are big shot in their stupid uniforms. I think that the government of Belize need to raise the standard of qualifications to become a police officer. They need special training in how to go about doing an investigation.

    SAMANTHA I DONT KNOW YOU BUT I CAN TELL THAT YOU ARE SINCERE. SUE THEM MY LOVE. DONT WAIT. GET THE BEST ATTORNEY IN THE LAND. That is my advise to you Sam

  15. MadDOG says:

    LIFE IS NEVER FAIR, I WONDER IF THERE IS A LAWER WHO WOULD LIKE TO THE CHALLENGE ON THIS CASE, AND IF THERE IS COME OUT AND HELP THIS GIRL AND SURELY U CAN GANE A GOOD REPUTAION TOO.. HEY NICE THAT U WILL NOT DEPEND ON THOSES BANK PEOPLE ANY MORE AND BE SELF EMPLOYED ,THEY ARE ALL STUCK UP AND TO BAD U HAD TO SEE IT IN ANOTHER ANGLE… SUE THEM FOR DE-FAMING U…. AND U GAT TO BE STRONG SO THIS DOESNT AFFECT U MY DEAR.. HEAD UP. AND BELIVE IN GOD.

  16. get it right says:

    This girl ain’t as innocent as she seems. She put on a good show on the news and lies very well. The real inside story would let everyone know what really happened and that she was recklessly blaming another employee for the robbery when the police and bank had caught wind that she planned it. Keep in mind that the witness that implicated her, by name, was one of the now deceased robbers. As for the bank part, no one ever stopped her from seeing anyone. In fact she walked around the bank like she still worked here so that i know is a lie. She even laughed and said that she would get off bc the system is stupid. No one mentions that she used to hang out with the same people that robbed the bank. But dead man tell no tales. Samantha you robbed one too many places and your reputation precedes you. Hope you take this second chance and make good to clean up your life. Stop the robberies, the drugs, the contraband etc and get your life on track.

  17. CEO says:

    “Get It Right” if you have so much information about this case why did you not assist the investigation in convicting her? If the only reason you say what you said is based on the testament of another crook who is now dead I think you need a little more than that.

  18. Brainfood says:

    Pollice in Belize always go to the path of least resistance, everyting is an inside job for them. once they brand a burglary an inside job them there is no need to continue investigating.

  19. sus says:

    IF I WEE YOU SAM I WOULD SUE THEM FOR ALL INJUSTICE THEY COMMITTED AGAINST YOU BECAUSE NOW A DAYS THE POLICE OFFICERS ARE THE THIEF THEY ARE JUST A BUNCH OF HUNGRY DOGS…..

  20. now i see says:

    @ CEO I think that Get it rigth is really rigth. I know she has bad habits and very bad company. Who ever is defending her are out side of the country and dont know her. I bet any thing that she will not sue no one. I wonder why? With what money she put her own business?

  21. LadyM says:

    lets not judge… she is innocent until proven guilty and as person in the legal field I know of too many cases where honestly there is no evidence to even merit an arrest, but police because they want to do an arrest lock down persons, as a means of metting out their own punishment based on a hunch. we are in a society governed by the rule of law, so we cannot speculate. I do not know if she did or did not do it… but as officers of the law, we should only act on the evidence…none of you who wrote on this page would want to be damaged in the court of public opinion based on NO evidence… with proper investigation they could have indeed proven it – if she indeed was part of it. the evidence of a dead witness is still admissible in case ‘get it right’ did not know. so if indeed their was such evidence it could have been used. with patience police could have gathered more evidence… they did not and so she is innocent in the eyes of the law and should be treateds as such and if it is true her name is NOT in the disclosure, then boy she has a case of malicious prosecution against them, defamation and the whole book. Officers of the law know the ruels and should not expose their office to these types of suit…

  22. -.- says:

    I wont be long here as i have no time nor patients to be reading people’s opinions in justice but here goes:

    1. “get it right” – i think u need to read your display name again and be a little less personal on this news blog that being that you are obviously upset that Samantha has finally gotten some sort of relief in her devastating situation. Further more by your words it is clear that you are an employee at the bank and could have possibly been involved yourself with all the information you know… its a pitty that people dont have the courage to post their names on the site but are ready accuse.

    Look…. Whether you know Samantha personally or not…. like her or dislike her….. the fact of the matter is… this young girl has been to hell and back….. she has fallen and is trying to get back up and live with the damages….. why are you all still trying to bring her down???? thanks (J.W)

    2. “now i see” – well i think u dont!!! “With what money she put her own business?”

    O_O o.O O.o O_O

    Did you see the meat shop?????? OMG just a hint: but the comments section are for people who have a functional brain….. the meat shop is a small shack…. its clear this young girls is fighting for her earnings and thank God she has a family that has stuck with her through all this……

    look the time for negativity has passed… Samantha is now looking to a positive future going forward so keep the negative comments to your self….

    you go Sam and God bless ;-)

  23. GET IT STRAIGHT says:

    It’s very important that the BPD does its proper investigation before making hasty arrests for the 6:30 news. ABSOLUTELY NONE OF US would want to be humiliated like this, without justification.

    I don’t think that these bank puppets (get it wrong, & now I see) should be here judging this young lady; she comes off more sincere than you guys who are just singing for your supper. Let’s hope that one day you don’t face with the injustice of false accusation, hasty arrest after poor investigation based on a so called “hunch”, and lazy DPP investigators.

  24. UNCLE HARRY says:

    I AM DISAPPOINTED IN THE POLICE DEPARTMENT BUT NOT SURPRIZE. THIS IS SAD LOOK WHAT THIS YOUNG LADY IS BEEN PUT THRU. THE POLICE DEPARTMENT HAS TARNISH THAT YOUNG LADY NAME. WHERE IS THE MINISTY? WHO IS INCHARGE IN THE POLICE DEPARTMENT? THIS IS SAD!!! SAD!!!! SAD!!!!!

  25. info says:

    Her mother and father individually gave her the money for the freezer and the machine. she used the family yard. adn it is even smaller than the coke houses on princess margaret drive. In teh disclosure, her name wasn’t mentioned. and if there were any testimony from a dead person it would have been admissible. She is seeing a lawyer about what options she can have. Believe it or not, she would have probably taken her job back but i guess that boat has sailed. THe story really worked against her. that’s why even channel5 felt necesary to bring that story to the public. the police never reported it, good job channel5 for going out there and getting the final word in the case. now its up to the young lady to keep her spirit high and make something out of her life once again. she needs to start eating some food though.

  26. for once says:

    for once on this page, people are trying to help someone rather than bring them one. good luck sam

  27. Buju says:

    So now she is the victim?????????

    She da di happiest person ina di world that ricky valencia dead…..

    This is a wake up call!!!!!!!

    continue fool with da unibam business then u wa see what u wa get – da di good Lord di wap you!

  28. now i see says:

    I think you are the blind one -.- how much you think that machine that she is using to cut meat cost? How much for the freezers? Or you think she saves the meat on ice. You could see you live in a dream world or dont know crap abouth business. Stop eating those potato chips is bad for the brain.

  29. are ramirez says:

    Samantha keep your head up. it is sad what happen to u. You have been clear of the charges dust yourself off and start a new chapter in your life. There will always be people who will want to judge u. Pay them no attention and focus on your life.You seem to have a family support system which is tight . Draw strength from it and set your course.

  30. GEORGE USHER says:

    BELIZE BELIZE BELIZE BRITISH HONDURAS PLEASE LETS GET RIGHT PLEASE BRING IN SOME GOOD LAW PEOPLE WE DONT HAVE NONE IN BELIZE BUT WHAT DO U EXPECT U DONT PAY THESE PEOPLE NOTHING NO MONEY U GET WHAT U PAY FOR GUYS LOVE BELIZE WITH ALL MY HEART WAKE UP NO SLEEPING IN BED

  31. joe lopez says:

    I agree with you Get it straight, our law system in belize is very poor and majistrates and judges in belize are properly qualified persons! I have seen and read that manny criminals not found guilty when all the evidence are there! Omg what’s wrong with this people and the bad thing is that the put the wrong person in jail. I hate to see this happening in my country! Criminals are out there killing and robbing people because of poor efficiency of our law enforcement law and officers!

  32. I Know Better says:

    This is for Eye in the Sky.
    You really have your eye in the sky. What are you looking at up there? Your brains? Obviously you don’t have your brains in your head that’s why your are not thinking like a normal human being. It’s obvious that you cannot read either because the news states that there is no evidence against her and she is INNOCENT!!!!! Find a dictionary and find the meaning of innocent. Oh and don’t be surprised if you see her picture next to the word. Get it right, she has no $200,000. That meat shop came from people who live her and care for her dearly. Don’t be an imbecile.

  33. Nuff Love says:

    For all of you Creole Crabs out there, yes you, it is quite clear to me that you have no comprehension skills or your brain was left in your mom’s womb. The police has no evidence against the young lady, the people actually charged for the crime are unable to speak and she has nothing to do with that. If the police and the judiciary system messed up, it is their fault and not the innocent victims whose lives are damaged because of their irresponsibility and laziness. She is innocent and unless you can prove otherwise do the world and yourselves a favor, shut your trap. As for the meta shop, the machine that’s in it and the freezer, unless you have a receipt to prove that those things add up to the amount you all claim as stolen,. then stop talking garbage. This is exactly why Belize cannot get ahead. We keep trying ot bring down one another instead of encouraging each other to keep fighting the good fight and praying to the good Lord. Get your acts together and start uplifting each other Belize!!!

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