October 01, 2011

Fiji: Criminals R Us

It's official. Not only is Fiji the scene of many financial crimes, we are now the number one destination for bonafide criminals.

Let's see how the Fiji Me professionals untangle that one.

Fantasies of Fiji end with jail
Last updated 05:00 30/09/2011

A judge has dismissed as "fantasy" a drug dealer's claims that the wads of cash lying around his home and in his car were there legitimately to buy property in Fiji.

Having decided the cash was tainted from dealing in methamphetamine and cannabis, Judge Jane Farish sent Dean Anthony Ebert to jail for 7 1/2 years.

"Drug dealing, particularly methamphetamine, and possession for supply of these pernicious drugs always require a deterrent sentence because it has such a negative impact on the community," she said.

"People who involve themselves in that sort of offending need to know and understand that on their apprehension and arrest they will be dealt with severely by the courts."

She said it was clear Ebert had been dealing in a commercial way because of the amount of drugs and the cash found in his possession.

Ebert, 49, a freezing worker, pleaded guilty to possession of methamphetamine and cannabis for supply, cultivating cannabis, and unlawful possession of a shotgun and ammunition.

But he spent 40 minutes in a Christchurch District Court session at Christchurch Men's Prison yesterday trying to explain the bundles of cash that were going to add to his sentence if they were found to be drug money.

Prosecutor Kathy Basire said the Crown would go ahead with a civil claim to take the money from him.

Ebert said he borrowed $50,000 in 2007 to buy property in Fiji, but the deal became complicated and was delayed. He spent some of the money on a car and refurbishing his Christchurch house, and in March 2009 he withdrew $34,000 to convert to Fijian currency so that he could go to Fiji and do the deal in cash.

He said the cash was kept at home for about a year, until the police drug raid in March 2010. They found $3357 cash in the console of his car, $9000 in a cassette case on a shelf in his bedroom, $10,000 in a black shopping bag and $3000 in a plastic bag on a coffee table.

They also found 33.1 grams of methamphetamine, with a street value of $33,100, and 47.7g of cannabis. A room had been fitted out as a cannabis-growing area.

Ebert was freed on bail. Police checked his house again two months later and found more methamphetamine and 113.6g of cannabis.

Judge Farish noted that Ebert had served jail terms in 1989 and 2000 for possession of cannabis for supply, and was prosecuted for possession of LSD.

She said it was a serious aggravating feature that he told the police he had the shotgun and ammunition for protection.

- The Press

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