EZjet boss applies to change plea to guilty

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EZjet boss applies to change plea to guilty

Unread post by bimjim » Tue Oct 01, 2013

http://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com/2013/ ... to-guilty/

EZjet boss applies to change plea to guilty
OCTOBER 1, 2013

Embattled EZjet boss, Sonny Ramdeo, facing up to 90 years in jail for allegedly stealing more than US$20M from a US hospital chain, has made an about turn and seems set to change his plea.

On Friday, Ramdeo, through his lawyer, gave notice on Friday that he wants to change his plea from not guilty. The hearing is set for this morning in a West Palm Beach court, Florida, before Judge Kenneth Marra.

Ramdeo, formerly of Windsor Forest, West Coast Demerara, was known more to Guyana for EZjet, a low-cost charter company he reportedly founded and operated between New York and Guyana.

However, he was arrested by US federal agents late last year, after being on the run following his interdiction. He was accused of embezzling more than US$20M from a hospital chain and using some of the proceeds to keep EZjet afloat.

Ramdeo was set to face trial this month in Florida.

A change of plea at this time would come as a shock as Ramdeo has steadfastly proclaimed his innocence.

Ramdeo was arrested late last year after reportedly hiding from FBI agents who were hot on his trail from Florida, where he lived. He was caught after agents, monitoring his phone calls, tracked him to a Brooklyn basement in which he was staying. The room he was found in, according to US prosecutors, was disguised to look like a storeroom.

In April, Ramdeo’s application for bail was denied, with the court saying that it was not convinced that he would not flee while awaiting trial. He has dual citizenship – Guyana and the United States.

The case is generating lots of interest not only for the amount of money that prosecutors say he stole but because of the high profile role played by Ramdeo in bringing the low-cost airline to Guyana.

Ramdeo’s legal woes riveted Guyana last year after his months-old airline venture fell from the sky. The low-cost charter was started in December 2011 amidst much fanfare in Guyana. But there were questions by players in the industry who wanted to know the source of his funding. Ramdeo had said the monies came from his savings and mortgage taken from his Florida home.

The airline was flying the Georgetown/New York route and had introduced flights to Canada and Trinidad as well.

But the seeming success crashed late last year after Promise Healthcare, a hospital chain for which Ramdeo was managing the payroll, claimed he stole over $20M starting in 2005.

Ramdeo, according to court documents, disappeared after an audit and in November 2012, the US Department of Transportation suspended EZjet after the plane company which operated the flights, claimed he owed them hundreds of thousands of dollars. The suspension left hundreds of passengers stranded in Guyana, the US, Canada and Trinidad.

Court documents claimed Ramdeo created a payroll company and made it appear, using fake emails, as if it was a legit one with links to another similar, established one that had been doing business with the hospital chain.

Prosecutors said that Ramdeo appeared to be moving thousands of dollars around, instructing staffers to make payments and deposits in a manner and amounts that would not have raised the curiosity of the US authorities. They are still investigating where the monies that the accountant allegedly stole is hidden.

Ramdeo is facing several charges of wire fraud and money laundering and could be jailed up to 90 years if found guilty.

EZjet, since being suspended last year by Guyana, US, Canada and Trinidad, has stopped operations.

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