Judge allows Romany to change his plea at sentencing

Nevispages Reporter

(CHARLESTOWN, NEVIS)- It was like a game of ‘cat and mouse’ for Trinidadian Attorney, Geoffery Romany on Tuesday, April 28, 2015 at the High Court in Charlestown.

Charlestown High Court
Charlestown High Court

At the beginning of the April 2015 Assizes on Tuesday, April 14, 2015, Romany pleaded guilty to fraudulent conversion and money laundering. On Tuesday, April 28, 2015 he appeared before Her Ladyship Justice Lorraine Williams for sentencing. However, when he appeared before the judge he shocked all in attendance when he asked the court to extract his guilty plea.

During the hearing, attorney for Mr. Romany, Dr. Henry Browne QC filed an application to have the guilty plea for the money laundering charge to be reversed.

Dr. Browne argued that the accused was entitled to change his plea since the Prosecution did not, in his opinion, prove the case of money laundering against his client. He asked the court to accept the reversed plea.

Crown counsel, Giovanni James on the opposite side did not agree with defense counsel, QC Browne. James asked the court to use its discretion on the ruling. He argued that Romany who is an experienced attorney, had knowledge of what was been done when he pleaded guilty.

James reminded the court that in November 2014 the court indicated that the matter against the defendant would go forward in the April 2015 Assizes. He further stated the defendant’s attorney had sufficient time to sort out his arraignments. According to him, “the prisoner made no indication of any mistake; no misapprehension or anything to say that he was told to enter the plea that he did; and therefore he made the plea with full knowledge of what he was doing”.

Attorney James highlighted that the defendant was indicted on a proper committal and that is why he was before the High Court. He said that Romany was well aware that when he pleaded guilty for the offense of money laundering, he was accepting that he laundered money.
In closing, he asked the court to reject the application and to exercise its discretion in favor of the crown.

Romany was charged on section 4 -subsection 2 (b) of the Proceed of Crime Act which states “the person receives, possesses, conceals, dispose of, or brings into or transfers from Saint Christopher and Nevis, any money or other property that is proceed of crime; and the person knows or ought to reasonably have known that the money or other property is derived, obtained, or realized, directly or indirectly from some sort of serious offense”.

Dr. Browne argued that if a man received money and used it for his own personal use that does not amount to money laundering. As a result, Browne said that the guilty plea for money laundering was not appropriate.

After a short recess, the learned judge rendered her decision and ruled in favor of the defense. Romany was therefore successful in having the court reverse his plea of guilty on the money laundering charge.

The money laundering case was then traversed until November 2015 Assizes. If convicted, Romany is facing a hefty sentence of 20 years maximum, whereas fraudulent conversion carries the maximum of seven years imprisonment.

The evidence against him states that sometime between April 2, 2008 and April 10, 2012 at Charlestown, having received U.S. $161,598.00 belonging to Vector Gardner, Romany used the money for his own personal use.

Nevispages understands that other matters involving fraudulent conversion is pending against the accused involve over one million dollars.

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