Accused admits hiding $315,000 in sneakers
A money-laundering suspect has admitted hiding nearly $315,000 in American currency inside the soles of shoes that was intercepted by Police as he tried to leave Bermuda.
But Kenith Bulford told a jury at the Supreme Court yesterday that the cash was “hard-earned and made legally” from fishing and running Crown and Anchor tables. Mr Bulford said he asked a neighbour, Wanda Bowen, to carry the shoes on the British Airways flight from Bermuda as a “favour” so he could move the money to Britain.
Taking the stand for the second day yesterday, the 40-year-old told the court he travelled to London on March 5, 2013, to “live” because he wanted to “get away and have a change”.
He said: “I had talked with Wanda Bowen previously. She said she was flying to the UK for her birthday, and I was planning on travelling at the same time.
“So I had asked Miss Bowen would she carry that sneakers away for me. I asked her to do that because I knew when I travelled I normally have a lot of issues with the police at times taking my money.
“The plan was I was to get the sneakers back from her. Once I arrived in England, the plan was to put the money in a safe place, get an apartment and get myself settled.”
Mr Bulford told jurors that he packed the cash in the shoes together with another person.
He said Ms Bowen knew there was money inside the trainers, but claimed that she had never asked where the cash had come from. The court has heard that Mr Bulford, Bowen and another woman, Malina Bean, were detained by Police as they tried to leave Bermuda on March 5, 2013 after Police discovered the $315,000 in American currency in the two women’s bags. They also found a little more than $10,000 in Mr Bulford’s jacket pocket and baggage.
Prosecutors say the money is the proceeds of criminal activity.
Yesterday, the court heard that Bowen had pleaded guilty to money-laundering charges, while the charges against Ms Bean had been dismissed.
“I was kind of shocked when I heard Ms Bowen had pleaded guilty because I thought she would go to trial,” Mr Bulford said.
“I would have taken the stand and I would have said where the money had come from in front of the jury.”
Mr Bulford rejected allegations that he was a high-ranking member of a West End gang that is believed to be involved in drug trafficking.
“I am not a gang member,” he said. “I am not a drugs dealer. My money has been hard-earned and made legally.”
The jury heard that Mr Bulford had previously had large sums of money seized from him by Police that was later returned to him.
Under cross-examination from prosecutor Garrett Byrne, Mr Bulford repeatedly denied that a property in Cambridge Road where Police had recovered his driving licence, an anti-ballistics vest and a CCTV system was his residence.
When Mr Byrne suggested to Mr Bulford that Ms Bowen was in trouble because of him, he replied: “And because of herself. It was a decision she made. I did not make her do it.”
The prosecutor went on to suggest that Mr Bulford was a “high-ranking member of an organisation involved in drug trafficking” and that the property on Cambridge Road was his “gang hideaway”. Mr Bulford denied both assertions.
Mr Byrne went further, saying that Mr Bulford’s fishing and Crown and Anchor operations were just a “front” to disguise all his money having come from drug trafficking.
Again Mr Bulford replied: “No, it is not.”
The prosecutor concluded by saying: “You exploited two vulnerable women by making them take the sneakers” and “you knew perfectly well the cash came from crime”.
Mr Bulford denied that the cash had come from crime, responding: “I did not exploit them. I asked Ms Bowen to do a favour for me and she agreed.”
Mr Bulford denies two charges of possessing the proceeds of crime.
The case continues.