September 23, 2020

Priya fights for Dudus assets

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Priya Levers

Local lawyers for Christopher “Dudus” Coke will ask the Jamaican court to return to his family, tens of thousands of dollars in assets seized in the wake of his 2010 extradition.

Mr Coke agreed to a plea bargain last week in New York, accepting a series of lesser charges in exchange for serving a substantial sentence and foregoing a costly trial on drugs and firearms charges.

In the wake of the bargain, lawyers will seek restoration of houses, cars and land confiscated previously by the Kingston government.

”The local lawyers will apply for a return of assets to the family,” said Dudus’ legal consultant and former Cayman Grand Court Justice Priya Levers.

“They seized a lot from the family: houses cars and land,” she said, explaining her ongoing role in the case alongside Jamaican attorneys Chukwuemeka Cameron and Carolyn Reid.

The Jamiacian duo were crucial in the Kingston Supreme Court’s recent decision, forcing police to turn over to Mr Coke’s defence team the contents of years of illegally obtained wiretap evidence.

The team is led by New York attorney Stephen Rosen, who, Ms Levers said, arranged the plea bargain after prolonged negotiations in Manhattan’s Southern District Court.

Mr Rosen had earlier failed to persuade the New York court to throw out the Jamaican wiretap, meaning Mr Coke faced not only damning police evidence, but also the testimony of 12 convicts from his Tivoili Gardens neighbourhood in Kingston. The dozen witnesses were set to describe a series of murders committed by Mr Coke in aid of his illicit activities.

“The prosecution cooperated in negotiating a plea,” Ms Levers said, after sharing documents with the defence.  “Mr Rosen appeared in court and did a brilliant job.”

Christopher “Dudus” Coke

She said the deal meant that Mr Coke lodged guilty pleas for racketeering, conspiracy to commit assault and two other minor charges.

“I have to say that I had nothing to do with the plea, but it was a wonderful outcome in the sense that the maximum sentence is about 22 years, which is pretty good for one of the most high-profile cases we have seen,” she said.

Mr Coke would no longer go to trial on 12 September, but instead attend a sentencing hearing on 8 December, she said.

“My role is steady, and I continue to advise on the law with the local lawyers,” Ms Levers said. “I am still on the case.”

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