After spending almost a month in a federal jail cell, the recently removed former top government official of the British Virgin Islands pleaded not guilty to charges of drug smuggling and money laundering. The arraignment of ex-Premier Andrew Fahie came two days after prosecutors persuaded the court to raise his bail to $1 million.
Fahie and co-defendant Oleanvine Pickering-Maynard were arrested on April 29 and charged with conspiracy to import a controlled substance. On Wednesday, before U.S. Magistrate Jacqueline Becerra, an attorney for Fahie entered a not guilty plea to charges contained in a three-count indictment filed May 10.
Charges included drug-smuggling conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and attempted money laundering. The alleged criminality occurred while Fahie was premier and is the reason he was removed from office. After making the Wednesday morning appearance in court, attorney Theresa Van Vliet said her client pleaded not guilty to all charges listed in the indictment but otherwise had no comment about Fahie’s pending court case.
Fahie and Maynard were apprehended by Homeland Security agents after arriving at a private airfield in Miami. According to the affidavit filed in court, the two were persuaded to come to Florida by an undercover officer posing as a drug trafficker, on the promise of collecting money to facilitate a cocaine shipment on its way to Puerto Rico.
Maynard’s son Kadeem Maynard was arrested on St. Thomas shortly afterward and extradited to Florida to face charges.
At a detention hearing held after the arrest, the court set a $500,000 bail that was challenged by lawyers from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Florida Southern District. On May 23 the court set new conditions for the defendant’s release. In addition to the original bail, a separate half-million-dollar bail was set, with a condition for Fahie to document the source of the funds being used.
If the bail conditions are met, Fahie would be placed on 24-hour home confinement and not be allowed to leave the premises to consult with his attorney. The court also set a worldwide extradition order in case Fahie escapes home confinement prior to trial.
A source at the Miami court clerk’s office said trial dates and pretrial hearing dates would be set by the judge assigned to the case, Judge Kathleen Williams.
If convicted at trial, the former BVI officials face a maximum term of life in prison.