Proceeds of Crime Law has heavy penalties
Lois Fay Bush, 60, was fined $700 on Monday after pleading guilty to unlawful gaming and possession of criminal property.
She was originally scheduled for trial when Magistrate Nova Hall ruled her plea of “guilty with explanation” amounted to a not guilty plea. The explanation was that she was selling tickets to an extravaganza dance at the Lions Centre. To her it was a form of gambling, she said, because people who bought tickets were interested in winning a money prize.
However, Crown Counsel Laura Manson showed Bush a statement with “#s” in Bush’s handwriting. “Yes, these are numbers,” she said, so the guilty plea was accepted.
The charges originally related to US$433 and CI$1,083, the amounts seized when Bush was arrested at her home in West Bay on 16 November, 2010. Ms Manson asked to substitute US$36 and CI$248 after various receipts were submitted to show where some of the money came from, including rent.
The charges arose after officers attended Bush’s residence acting on information received. Two people were sitting outside and the defendant was inside when the officers produced a search warrant. The people outside were searched and nothing was found. Inside, officers found a receipt book, a legal pad, a calculator and two small bags with money in them. She told officers the money was a bank loan and a withdrawal from an ATM.
She was initially charged with allowing her premises to be used as a common gaming house, but the charge was amended to unlawful gaming, specifically the sale of numbers. Both offences are under the same section of The Gambling Law and are subject to the same penalty – a fine of $400 “or to imprisonment, with or without hard labour, for 12 months.”
The magistrate said possession of criminal property – the money – was a charge brought under a different law with heavier penalties. The Proceeds of Crime Law provides a maximum penalty of $5,000 and imprisonment up to two years or both.
In the circumstances of the case, she imposed fines of $350 for each offence, a total of $700, plus confiscation of the amounts to which Bush pleaded guilty.
The defendant asked if she would get the rest of her money back. She was told that the confiscated sums and the fines would be paid from the money seized and the balance would be returned to her.