Latest Tarpon Investigation Former VDSM Head James Richardson Detention Extended
Latest Tarpon Investigation : Former VDSM Head James Richardson to go before judge on Friday. The prosecutor ordered on July 20 the extension of J.A.J.R.’s (41) detention with a maximum of eight more days. The former VDSM head was detained on July 19 in the Tarpon investigation on suspicions of embezzlement and money laundering committed from 2011 till mid 2013. J.A.J.R. has to appear on Friday July 22 in front of the judge of instruction who will check the lawfulness of his detention.
The prosecutor ordered on July 20 the extension of J.A.J.R.’s (41) detention with a maximum of eight more days. The former VDSM head was detained on July 19 in the Tarpon investigation on suspicions of embezzlement and money laundering committed from 2011 till mid 2013. J.A.J.R. has to appear on Friday July 22 in front of the judge of instruction who will check the lawfulness of his detention.
Prosecutor’s Office Bulletin.
July 2016: Former VDSM head detained in Tarpon investigation
VDSM Tarpon James Richardson : The former head of the St. Maarten National Security Service VDSM J.A.J.R. (41) has been arrested on Tuesday, July 19 by members of the National Detective Agency assisted by officers of the St. Maarten Police Force KPSM. His house in Ebenezer, Cul de Sac was also searched in connection with the ongoing investigation concerning embezzlement and money laundering called Tarpon, led by the National Detective Agency.
A search was also done in a hotel room and at a moving company. Documents, money, valuables, a car and data carriers were confiscated. Neither the hotel nor the moving company are suspects in the investigation.
J.A.J.R. is suspected of embezzlement and money laundering for the amount of NAf. 800.000,- which took place from January 2011 till mid-2013. Money laundering is considered a continuous offence from which the suspect has possibly been profiting until today.
The National Detective Agency has been busy since mid-2015 with the Tarpon investigation. The long duration of the investigation is, among other things, due to the fact that, in particular when the investigation started, the National Detective Agency had a very limited capacity and was constantly confronted with other large-scale and time-consuming investigations.
The Tarpon investigation is also targeted on recovering proceeds of crime. It’s the first time that the National Detective Agency is conducting such an investigation. Recovering proceeds of crime fits within the National Detective Agency’s new policy, equal to that of the Prosecutor’s Office and from now on more of such investigations can be expected.
J.A.J.R. is currently detained while the investigation continues. More arrests cannot be excluded.
PHOTOS: THE LATEST FULL STORY ON JAMES RICHARDSON HIDING AND THE VDSM MONEY THAT’S
Security service chief hid at Tamarind Hotel
December 09, 2013 7:33 AM
JAMES RICHARDSON HIDING AND THE VDSM MONEY THAT’S ALLEGEDLY MISSING
PHILIPSBURG – Suspended National Security Service St. Maarten VDSM chief James Richardson went into hiding in Tamarind Hotel for four months last year, for fear of an attempt on his life by “murderous drug criminals,” Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reported on Saturday.
According to De Telegraaf, Richardson also had ordered the construction of a security wall around his house. The cost of the wall’s construction and Richardson’s hotel expenses were borne by VDSM.
The VDSM chief formally is allowed to declare expenses made for his personal security, but the amounts – for example, where hotel cost is concerned – are being contested by Government Accountants Bureau SOAB. These investigations, in which possible financial misappropriation within the VDSM was described, were reason to suspend the VDSM chief.
Richardson claimed he spent US $32,000 on the hotel during his hiding period. The hotel bills, which De Telegraaf claims to have in its position, only amount to $14,000. According to the hotel, the bill is not yet fully paid.
Richardson has been sitting at home since September. He is suspended, but is still receiving his salary.
According to De Telegraaf, “observers” said he had been suspended after he uncovered corruption among government officials with ties to a “notorious Italian businessman.” Richardson allegedly created bad blood after he issued a negative advice concerning the businessman’s appointment to an “important financial institution.”
Persons in government allegedly were also unhappy with VDSM’s security screening of members of the new Council of Ministers led by Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams. “A similar investigation led to the downfall of Prime Minister of Curaçao Gerrit Schotte in August 2012,” wrote the Dutch daily.
Tamarind Hotel management vividly remembers Richardson’s stay. “The family stayed in Tamarind-54, our largest and best unit. They really made a dirty mess. During the three years I’m working here, we have never had to polish that long to clean a unit again,” Tamarind management was quoted as saying.
The choice of location for the hideout was called “remarkable,” because the hotel is hardly secured and not secluded.
Richardson claimed it was necessary for him to go into hiding because he had been threatened in connection with the Vesuvius case involving a murderous drug gang. The Vesuvius case is the largest criminal investigation to date in St. Maarten. Thirty suspects were interrogated in 11 countries during the 12-month investigations. Twenty homes were searched and 17 firearms and silencers, hundreds of bullets, bulletproof vests, wigs and masks were confiscated. The $2 million investigations resulted in a 10,000-page case file. The two main suspects in this case were sentenced to life, but are appealing the verdicts.
Prime Minister Wescot-Williams said in July that SOAB investigations had uncovered irregularities in the VDSM budget and that “considerable expenditures” were not accounted for. According to her, the first signals about possible embezzlement and corruption within VDSM already had surfaced in April.
Richardson and his attorney declined to comment, because they are currently in consultation with government concerning the financial accounts. However, they told De Telegraaf they were “optimistic” about the outcome of this “bizarre” labour dispute.
St. Maarten – The position of James Richardson as head of the National Security Service of St. Maarten (VDSM) clearly can no longer be maintained, Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams said during yesterday’s Council of Ministers weekly press briefing.
The beleaguered VDSM is currently entangled in a controversy because a huge amount of money has disappeared. The government accountant bureau (SOAB) started investigations into the service earlier this year and upon completion, reported to the prime minister that there were irregularities at the service with regard to money that should have been used for operations. At the heart of the controversy Richardson was thought to have first fled the country, but this proved untrue.
One of SOAB’s recommendations was to give Richardson, the opportunity “to substantiate or give elucidations” on its findings. Yesterday, the prime minister declined to respond on whether Richardson has since admitted to any wrong doing but said that she hopes to provide a report to the general public on the status of service’s operations.
“I hope that at an appropriate moment to provide a report but not in details as far answering some of the questions that are out there as far as that service is concerned.”
Government still needs to communicate its termination intention to Richardson and he will be given a chance to respond via a hearing. In the meantime, the prime minister, who bears responsibility for the service, says she is still to decide on a new head of St. Maarten’s Secret Service.
“What I do think is important at this time is to have someone in place who can create a tranquility in this service and then go over to the appointment of a head in this service. You may see a sort of interim situation where we get things back on a quieter level internally,” she explained.
The first signs about irregularities had surfaced in April. The suspicions of irregularities led to the decision to have the government accountant bureau investigate the books of the National Security Service.
The prime minister was also happy to report that the oversight committee for the VDSM has begun its work.
“The members of the oversight committee for the National Security Service of St. Maarten were on the island and started their consultations. I have also met with the chair and vice chair of this committee they have been briefed by the service and provided with all necessary information and thus their work has begun,” the prime minister said.
SERIOUS SIGNS OR IRREGULARITY AT VDSM
vdsm has far reaching , intrusive, special powers to execute its tasks.
The National Security Service of St Maarten VDSM, established during the formation of Country St Maarten with far reaching, intrusive powers, has has to endure an investigation that has revealed serious signs of irregularities that possible could range from abuse of power to compromising or leaking of information that could affect national security. Though exactly why the investigation was started and what it revealed was not disclosed by Prime Minister Sarah Wescot WIlliams, the twenty page ordinance that regulates the VDSM and outlines its tasks leaves lots of room for speculation about what exactly these irregularitites at the young agency could entail, especially considering that almost all actions executed by the VDSM require prior permission from the Prime Minister. The main tasks of the VDSM are to investigate persons or groups who pose a threat to the legitimacy of democracy on the island and the integrity of government, to provide security screenings in relation to positions of confidentiality, and to give advice to the vital sectors, in relation to national security.
VDSM has a range of “special powers t can use in the execution of its taskes, these include, but are not limited to observing individuals or businesses an in the process capturing data by recording means, or otherwise tracking individuals or businesses using tracking devices and surveillance eqpuipment, entering and seraching enclosed spaces, recording and intercepting communications, telecommunications or automated data, opening letters and oter consignments, and intruding computerised files. The VDSM has undisclosed amount of funds at tits disposal to execute these powers These special powers are applied only with the PRime Minister’s approval based on a written proposal by the VDSM head. Written permission from the PM must be otained for each case. This permission shall, infofar as theordinance provides, be granted for up to three months and may be renewed by request of the head of VDSM. It is clearly specified that the processing of data takes place only for a particular purpose and only to the extent necessary for the proper implememntation of the ordinance. VDSM does not collect data related to a person’s religion or belief, race health or sexual lifestyle, unless this relates to other collected data.
VDSM is also charged with the screening of persons for confidential positions. If a person has applied for a job considered a position of confidentiality “vertrowuwensfunctie” or if someone presently holsds a postion that requires a so called declaratiton of no objection “verlaring van geen Bezwaar” (VGB, he or she will have to undergo a security screeing. POstions of confidentiality are postions in the private or public sector that are deemed vulnearble and require a security screening by the VDSM to ensure that individuals placed in these roles do not pose a threat to national security. These may include, for example, functions in which access is given to or needed in relation to confidential information, or the individual needs access to the secure area of an airport or seaport.
VDSM was not involved in Vesuvius-investigation
POSTED: 12/11/13 6:35 PM
St. Maarten – The National Intelligence Service VDSM was never involved in the Vesuvius investigation, as the Telegraaf suggested on Saturday in a story about VDSN-chief James Richardson. “That seems to me to be a tall story,” Bart den Hartigh, one of the first case officers for the Vesuvius investigation who has in the meantime returned to the Netherlands, said in an email to this newspaper. “As far as I know the VDSM has not been involved in Vesuvius. They are dangerous criminals but they don’t seem to be a danger to the state to me – though I do not know how the VDSM thinks about that.”
On October 18, 2012, Den Hartigh formulated the prosecution’s demand against the seven Vesuvius-suspect together with fellow-prosecutor Gonda van der Wulp.
The demand details all the parties that were involved in the investigation: police from St. Maarten, Curacao, Aruba, Bonaire and the Netherlands. Local forces, the Royal Marechaussee and the Detective Collaboration Team RST made manpower available for Vesuvius. But the National Intelligence Service VFSM was not one of them.
The Telegraaf story was correct in the sense that Richardson camped out at the Tamarind Hotel in Pointe Blanche for a couple of months in 2012 but his reasons for going to ground remain unclear.
Richardson arrived with his family and most of his belongings at the Tamarind Hotel on May 25, 2012, where he rented apartment number 54 for $2,700 per month. The invoice went to the Staff Bureau of General Affairs under the name of James Richardson. This newspaper obtained copies of the hotel bills the Richardson family amassed at the Tamarind.
They show that the VDSM-chief stayed at the Tamarind until September 25 of last year. The bills total a bit more than $14,000. Especially in August and September the electricity-component of these bills went through the roof with charges close to $400 per month. “They had the airco on all day and they left their windows open,” explains Tamarind-manager Paul Ingram.
Richardson also made a big mess in the luxury apartment. “Our cleaning lady was complaining constantly about it,” Ingram says. When they left we took pictures of the mess.”
Of the $14,000 hotel-bill General Affairs still has to pay close to $900 for utilities.
The claim by the Telegraaf that Richardson went to ground due to threats linked to the Vesuvius-trial, do not make any sense at all. All suspects in this case were arrested in November 2011, and the case went to trial in October of the following year. Richardson and the VDSM were not connected to the case in an investigative capacity or as a witness.
King-murders test case for life sentences: Johnson in court tomorrow to appeal life imprisonment
POSTED: 12/11/13 6:57 PM
St. Maarten – The Common Court of Justice deals tomorrow with the appeal of Meyshane Kemar Johnson against his life sentence for the murder of Michael and Thelma King on September 19 of last year. Co-defendant Jeremiah Chevon Mills is appealing his sentence ton 28 years and the third defendant in this case, Jamal Jefferson Woolford is looking for some reprieve from his sentence to 21 years.
For the family of the murder victims the life sentence for Meyshane Johnson is at the focus of their attention. The Court in First Instance sent Johnson sent away for life in May of last year and this ruling offered the family some sort of solace. However, developments in the legal field that took place since the verdict make it rather doubtful that the life sentence will hold up on appeal.
The Kings were sleeping in their villa at the Ocean Club in Cupecoy when the three criminals entered the place on September 19 of last year. Michael King was sleeping on a couch downstairs, while his wife Thelma was sleeping upstairs. The men has just robbed the Happy Star restaurant on Cannegieter Street in Philipsburg a couple of hours earlier and escaped by the skin of their teeth because they ran into a police patrol. Officers fired shots at the getaway car but did not manage to stop the vehicle.
While the initial plan was to rob the villa of valuables like money and jewelry, things turned ugly after the robbers woke up Michael King under threat of two pellet guns and a knife, asking him where the money was. While Johnson kept a knife on King’s throat, the other robbers went upstairs where they forced Thelma King first to open the safe and then to come downstairs with them. They tied the victim with a ripped towel to a chair and blindfolded and gagged her.
Michael King pleaded with the robbers not to kill them, but Johnson first stabbed him in the back whereby his knife broke and then cut his throat with a second knife handed to him by Jeremiah Mills. While Mills and Woolford left the villa, Johnson also stabbed Thelma King to death.
The gruesome murder shocked St. Maarten, but the King-family – bereaved by the loss of their loved ones –displayed a resilient attitude. “We clearly understand,” Todd King told this newspaper in an interview in April, “that it is three people who did this – not the island. All of us are hurting. These people are liars, thieves and murderers but that is not St. Maarten.”
After the appeal hearing there is a waiting period of three weeks for the verdict that is likely to come down on Thursday, January 2 of next year. Will the life sentence for Johnson hold up? The history of life imprisonment in St. Maarten does not bode well for those who never want to see the defendant walk the streets again as a free man.
The Common Court of Justice overturned the life sentences of Sherwan Roberts and Curtley Allison Richards in September of last year. Roberts and Richards killed three men during what solicitor-general Taco Stein called “three weeks of terror,” they repeatedly raped a young woman, ill-treated another one, and robbed three other men.
The appeal court judges referred in their decision to overturn the life sentence and to punish both defendants with 30 years instead, to a ruling by the European Human rights Court. This ruling notes that imposing life imprisonment is irreducible and therefore in violation of article 3 of the European Human Rights Treaty if there is no perspective for release.
That there is the option to ask for a pardon did not satisfy the court. Chances that such a request will be honored are extremely slim, the court ruled. And then there was this consideration: “It cannot be said that currently in Sint Maarten the social or political will exists to take the right to a pardon as point of departure for very serious crimes.”
In spite of this ruling, the Court in First Instance again handed down two life sentences in November of last year to gang leader Omar Jones and his hitman Carlos Richardson. Their appeal hearing is scheduled for Friday.
The ruling that could put the most pressure on the court to overturn the life sentence for Meyshane Johnson (and also those for Jones and Richardson) is the Vinter-arrest. This ruling from the European Human Rights Court came down in July and holds that the state must have dedicated mechanisms in place that regulate the perspective of release at the time of the conviction. This goes a step further than the standard option of asking for a pardon and the backdoor to freedom through a legal procedure.
Legal observers in the Netherlands have noted that a life sentence already violates the European Human Rights Treaty if these mechanisms are not in place. The parliament in St. Maarten added insult to injury last year when it took article 28 out of the draft criminal code. This article happens to be one of the instruments the European Human Rights court refers to: it gave lifers the right to a review of their sentence after 20 years.
The Constitutional Court has reviewed this decision by parliament and ruled recently that all references to life imprisonment have to be erased from the draft criminal code.
For now however, the old criminal code is still in place and the question the appeals court has in front of it is how it will deal with the current legislation in the face of these recent developments.
The Dutch newspaper Telegraaf is at it again. Have you heard that there is some sort of scandal going on at the national intelligence service VDSM? Yes, thank you, we know that.
The Telegraaf has now discovered that VDSM-chief James Richardson camped out for four months at the Tamarind Hotel. Okay, we did not know that, but what else is new?
A lot, according to the story by Telegraaf-reporter Bart Olmer. Here is the first curve ball: Richardson went to ground in the Tamarind hotel because he feared for his life. Olmer mentions the Vesuvius-investigation – the investigation into the deadly war between the drugs gangs of Miguel Arrindell and Amador and Omar Jones.
Miguel Arrindell is of course deceased and so is Amador Jones. His brother Omar and his hit man Carlos Richardson were arrested in November 2011 and they are currently serving a life sentence for multiple murders and membership of a criminal organization. How these people could pose a threat to James Richardson, who is not involved in criminal investigations, is a mystery, but Olmer seems to know all about it.
Another interesting detail in Olmer’s story refers to “a notorious Italian businessman” and that his suspension came about after he discovered corruption among local politicians that had ties with this character. Here is the kicker in the story: Richardson gave a negative advice about “the admission of this businessman to an important financial institution.”
Apparently Olmer does not feel straight enough in his shoes to mention the name of Atlantis World Group owner Francesco Corallo. It is safer to write about “a notorious Italian businessman.”
And what about this negative advice about “the admission of this businessman to an important financial institution?” Ah, well, those details do not concern the Telegraaf. Here are the facts: Curacao’s Prime Minister Gerrit Schotte proposed Rudolf Baetsen, the chief financial officer of the Atlantis world group as a candidate for the board of the Central Bank. When all hell broke loose, Baetsen withdrew his candidacy. He is not Italian, he is Dutch.
It is true that Schotte also had “an important function” in mind for Corallo, but the nature of that position has never been revealed – and this whole mess had nothing to do with James Richardson. And, by the way, the candidacy of Baetsen for the Central Bank played in the spring of 2011. And that would be the reason for the Government in St. Maarten to suspend Richardson more than two years later, in 2013?
It just does not make a lot of sense but that has never bothered Telegraaf-readers.