Puerto Ricans get 16 months for attempted theft

Two Puerto Ricans caught at the airport in an attempt to leave with cash and equipment to make fake credit cards were jailed yesterday for 16 months.

Juan De La Cruz Carvajal, 21, and Avik Kavil Abreu Rivera, 24, admitted charges of conspiracy to steal and attempted money laundering.

Puisne Judge Craig Attridge said the men were caught with more than $4,000 in cash as they tried to leave the island, but it was likely they had attempted to steal more.

Mr Justice Attridge said: “The intent and expectation of the defendants must have been to make a significant gain.

“The court agrees that the increasing prevalence of offences of this nature in recent times undermines the financial integrity of the island by increasing the cost of legitimate financial activity, making victims of us all.”

The judge added that the sentence needed to not only punish the offenders, but also deter others from similar crimes.

The court earlier heard that Carvajal and Rivera were stopped by US Customs as they attempted to leave the island on January 19.

The officers searched their bags and discovered more than $4,000 in mixed currency, along with a machine designed to print fake credit and debit cards.

Customs officials also searched a laptop in their possession and found a programme set up to use the card machine.

Alan Richards, the Crown counsel, told the court that evidence suggested the pair had attempted several unsuccessful transactions and they had tried to steal more money than they had obtained.

Mr Richards added that this type of theft was on the rise in Bermuda, with multiple cases before the courts this year alone.

But he said both defendants admitted their culpability at the earliest reasonable opportunity and were entitled to a discount on their sentence.

Mr Richards suggested a sentence of between one year and 18 months.

Charles Richardson, who appeared for Carvajal, said a sentence of one year would be appropriate and warned the court against placing too much weight on the Crown’s claims the defendants sought to steal more than they did.

He said: “This court cannot sentence on the basis of speculation.”

Auralee Cassidy, for Rivera, suggested a sentence of six to nine months for her client.

Mr Justice Attridge sentenced Carvajal and Rivera to 16 months in prison for conspiracy to steal, with time spent in custody taken into consideration.

He also sentenced the pair to six months behind bars for attempted money laundering, but ordered that the sentences should run concurrently.

The judge also approved a forfeiture order for the seized cash and equipment

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