Fern White-Hilsenrath, Gleaner Writer
Manhattan, New York:
J’can ex-cop’s immigration status questioned
A pretrial conference scheduled for yesterday for Errol Cliff Richards, a former Jamaican law enforcement officer popularly known as ‘Schoolboy Richie’, has been postponed.
Richards and his co-accused, Ronald Mohammed Noeranie Badloe, will now appear before federal judge Sidney H. Stein on September 23 when their attorneys are expected to notify the court of any motions they intend to make on behalf of their clients. The new court date was also confirmed by the defence attorney representing Richards, Thomas F. Dunn, who refused to offer any other information to The Gleaner.
Richards and Badloe are facing charges of conspiracy to distribute narcotics and an attempt to import and export narcotics into and from the United States. The two are suspected of being at the centre of a multinational narcotics operation spanning Trinidad, Colombia, Venezuela, Canada, and the United States.
Commenting on the charges, criminologist and former provost of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Dr Basil Wilson, describes the case as fascinating. This, says Wilson, is based on the fact that Schoolboy Richie was such a prominent figure in law enforcement in western Kingston.
KEEPING EYE ON CASE
Wilson is watching the case with interest and plans to be present in court for upcoming proceedings.
“I’m anxious to see to what extent the federal government is able to provide foolproof evidence to be able to get a conviction,” Wilson said.
In a previous pretrial conference held on June 23 at which Richards and his co-accused were present with their attorneys, prosecutors were told that the last day for the period of discovery of evidentiary information would end on July 14, except for additional discovery, which was expected to come out of Colombia.
How did Schoolboy Richie manage to be in the United States? That’s the question on many lips as the former powerful downtown Kingston law enforcement figure bides his time in detention, awaiting his next court appearance.
Wilson is also one of many persons wondering about the former cop’s immigration status as he believes that it is extremely difficult – near impossible – for an ex-convict to be issued a US visa, whether immigrant or non-immigrant.
A bail hearing held on July 30 was adjourned without decision in order to clarify Richards’ immigration status. It is unclear what the issue is with his immigration status, but tongues are wagging as under US immigration law, a criminal conviction normally renders an applicant ineligible for a US visa.
If it is found that Richards was present in the US illegally, he could face further charges for breaches of US immigration regulations.
Richards was a feared policeman in downtown Kingston but was kicked out of the Jamaica Constabulary Force following his arrest, conviction, and imprisonment for defrauding an insurance company of $450,000.