By Aaron Humes: The men accused of stealing from the Belize Bank’s automated teller machine were told today that they will spend twelve months in jail.
Senior Magistrate Sharon Fraser imposed a custodial sentence on 28 year old Jeorji Petrov, and 25 year old Halid Yuksel Aptula, accused of stealing money through fraudulent transactions at the Belize Bank ATM in May and who pleaded guilty to 18 counts each of theft.
The fact that they avoided trial by pleading guilty spoke well for them, but she believed that were it not for a vigilant bank employee, their “deliberate actions” would have continued.
The time to be served is four terms of three months; 3 months for each of the first four counts to be served consecutively, hence 12 months, and for the remaining 14 counts, 3 months each concurrently and concurrent with the other sentences, keeping it at a total of 12 months.
While each man showed disappointment at the news, there may be more to come. Senior Magistrate Frazer is to rule on June 21, 2016 on an application by the prosecution to forfeit all items the men were found with when they were arrested as proceeds of crime under the Money Laundering and Terrorism Prevention Act.
The application must be made if no appeal of the decision is lodged within 21 days of the ruling
Defense attorneys Oscar Selgado and Christelle Wilson tried to persuade the court to return the items on the basis of the conclusion of the case and not meeting the threshold under the Act of 10 thousand dollars in value but the Sneior Magistrate ordered the items held as exhibit until the application is made.
We have been reliably informed since Wednesday that the police department had brought as many as 79 counts of theft to be levy against the alleged mastermind, Aptula.
His attorney Selgado would not speak on the record but did confirm that no new charges were read today for his client; however, we could not find out why.
Attorney for Petrov, Christelle Wilson told us that the police could not and cannot bring additional charges against the men at this time because they will not stand up in court since both men has already pleaded guilty to 18 counts of theft and that if additional charges were to be levied under the same set of facts, it would be double jeopardy since a guilty plea has already been accepted and today they were sentenced.
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