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Jan 21, 2010

American National says FIU threatened him into guilty plea

William Jewett Jr.

William Jewett Jr.

A US fugitive, William Russell Jewett Jr., has been in the news since Monday because he was found in Belize with a large bundle of cash. Jewett was busted with over a hundred and twenty thousand dollars on his boat and slapped with charges from the F.I.U., Customs and Immigration. But now, thirty-three year old Jewett is making serious allegations against the FIU.  Today he indicated to the court that he wanted to change his plea for Money Laundering from not guilty to guilty. But before the plea was taken, his attorneys, Dickie Bradley and Ellis Arnold, addressed the court both indicating that they were withdrawing from the case because Jewett rejected their legal advice. According to Bradley, while remanded, Jewett had a visit from personnel of the U.S. Embassy and the F.I.U. and was allegedly threatened with eleven years in prison if he did not plead guilty. Bradley says that Jewett was also told that his wife will be charged and their two year old child would be placed in the custody of Social Services. This was confirmed by Jewett to freelance reporter, Anita Nembhard, via a telephone call from prison. The alleged threats apparently contributed to Jewett’s change of heart.  Although Jewett is no longer his client, Bradley gave us details of what happened.

Dickie Bradley, Attorney

Richard "Dickie" Bradley

Richard "Dickie" Bradley

“He was threatened on Saturday that if he did not plead guilty on Monday morning to money laundering, he would face additional charges and his wife would also be charged, he would go to prison and his child will be taken away by the social services in this country. He became outraged and he sent for attorneys early Sunday morning. Myself and Ellis Arnold went and saw him, we explained to him the law that governs money laundering. We told him there was the possibility that they would come with a customs charged. But how can you be charged for breaking the law by importing a boat into the country, when the boat is registered here in Belize? When that is his means of transport, he is coming in and has in fact advised Immigration that he will be leaving with his boat. He advised his wife, since she was not charged for anything, she is not wanted, because they are using his wife and his child to bring pressure on his to change his plea. He advised his wife to leave Belize. My understanding is his wife left and was somewhere in Mexico on her way to her home country. There is nothing wrong with that, there is nothing illegal about that. Yesterday, officials from the FIU, attorney and officials from the United States Embassy—since you say he spoke to you he may have given you the names. You know my many years of talk show, “Noh call no name”—they came to the prison and he was told you need to change your plea otherwise you will spend eleven years in prison, your wife is going to be charged and you will lose your child. Yeah right. They say why you don’t believe us? You think your wife is over there? They gave him a call, he speaks to his wife and his wife is allegedly in Belize. they even show him pictures to satisfy him that his wife is right here and if he doesn’t change his plea, his wife will be charged and his wife will go to jail.”

In court, Jewett’s allegation against the F.I.U. was questioned by Chief Magistrate Margaret Gabb McKenzie who said that a plea should not be induced by threats or fear. Attorney for the F.I.U., Mikhail Arguelles, told the court that while he was present at the prison, he was not privileged to the conversation Jewett had with the F.I.U. Gabb-McKenzie then told Jewett that the penalty for money laundering is in the range of fifty to two hundred thousand dollars that must be paid forthwith. Jewett said he would not be able to pay a fine of that magnitude and requested time. His case was later adjourned until January twenty-seventh after he requested time to speak with the U.S. Embassy for advice.

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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4 Responses for “American National says FIU threatened him into guilty plea”

  1. serapio says:

    wow if thats true,thats just crazy and not right at all.

  2. From US says:

    CARFUL Belize! This is a snake that has coned many. He probably has a few million stashed in some bank where they don’t really ask questions as to where it came from. He has left many in his wake not paying what he owes from his contracting business… beware I even heard he left two daughters from a previous marriage with nothing.

  3. bas says:

    well i think he should be released and better yet taken to san pedro or cayo to spend that huge lump sum of money on the people and not do like out ministers that spend belize’s money abroad. I dont c y someone should be jailed for money they have just take your tax and give him his balance and problem solved.

  4. Great article and post, thanks very helpful.

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