By Latrishka Thomas
“A prima facie case has not been made out” in the matter involving a Paynters resident who was charged with making a false declaration at the VC Bird International Airport more than three years ago.
On March 30, 2017, Lev Josiah was said to have arrived at the airport to board a flight to St. Maarten.
On his way to the security check-point, he was reportedly stopped by a female security officer and asked if he had anything in his pockets and he told her that he had some money.
While walking away, he was stopped again by a male officer and was reportedly asked to clear his pockets.
The defendant is said to have removed a brown envelope from his pockets and placed it in a basket provided by the security officer.
Upon opening the envelope, a large quantity of US currency was reportedly discovered.
It was further reported that when Josiah was asked how much money he was travelling with, he said approximately $8,000.
The officer did not believe he was telling the truth and therefore called the shift supervisor.
The defendant was taken into a search room and the supervisor asked him how much money he had on him and he then allegedly said a little more than $10,000.
He was escorted to the customs office where he met a constable and customs officer.
The customs officer asked him how much money he had, and he reportedly said $10,000, some of which belonged to his girlfriend who had checked in earlier.
The envelope was handed over to another customs officer to count the money
The girlfriend was later found and questioned, and she said about US $2,000 or $3000 belonged to her.
While the money was being counted, Josiah was asked if he had any more money and he reportedly did not respond.
They officials searched his person and reportedly found a large quantity of EC and US dollars.
Another envelope with money was said to have been found in the defendant’s carry-on luggage.
The constable suspected that the man had more money than he had declared and informed him that it is an offence to fail to declare excess of US $10,000.
The money found amounted to US $18,696 and EC $785.
He was arrested and subsequently charged.
However, upon hearing evidence and receiving submissions from both the prosecution and defense, Magistrate Ngaio Emanuel-Edwards declared that there is no case to answer.
She said that the prosecutions evidence “is totally short”.
Moreover, the statement “did not prove to be false” since the offense occurs when a specific question was asked.
The magistrate also noted that there was no evidence that any document was signed by the departing passenger.
Josiah is therefore now a free man.
Magistrate Emanuel-Edwards ordered that the monies be returned to the accused.