In yet another twist to the ongoing murder plot investigation involving Bradley Paumen, additional charges were brought against him, one of his employees and two others on Thursday.
At 5:20 p.m. Thursday, friends of Paumen sat inside the courtroom of Magistrate Albert Hoare as Dark Night employees gathered outside and waited anxiously for a decision from the Magistrate regarding bail for Paumen and three other persons arraigned with him. Minutes later, there were tears of disappointment, anger and frustration as all four were remanded to prison.
Thursday’s court appearance arose out of a May 2015 incident, in which businessman Michael Modiri, the main target of Paumen’s alleged murder plot, was stopped at a police checkpoint in St. Margaret’s village. When his pickup was searched, officers found a militarized .22 Mossberg rifle and a plastic bag containing 187 rounds of ammunition. Modiri and three others in the vehicle with him were charged, remanded and later released on Supreme Court bail.
The charges of keeping an unlicensed firearm and ammunition were struck last week, though, because Special Branch Investigators now believe that Modiri was the target of a conspiracy orchestrated by Paumen. Police have been able to connect Paumen directly to the rifle found in Modiri’s vehicle, and say he and others worked together to frame Modiri.
Additional charges were brought against Paumen; his mechanic Lisburn Anderson; Belmopan businessman Jahangir Abadi; and even Modiri’s ex-wife, Korean Haung Chong Park.
Paumen and Anderson were arraigned on a charge of ‘Conspiracy to Pervert the Course of Justice’. Abadi was charged with ‘Abetment of a Crime to Pervert the Course of Justice’, while Park was charged with ‘Conspiracy of a Crime to Pervert the Course of Justice’.
Police say that Paumen sourced the weapon, and then paid Anderson to place it in Modiri’s vehicle. Police also believe that Abadi and Park also attempted to solicit the services of another man to place the .22 rifle in the pickup.
There was much drama in Court on Thursday, in an arraignment procedure which started at 9:00 a.m. and ended at 5:25 p.m. Magistrate Ladonna John presided over the arraignment in the morning but she abruptly recused herself from the case at around 11:00 after a short recess, stating only that she had contacted the Chief Magistrate to make other arrangements.
In the afternoon, Magistrate Albert Hoare presided over the matter, though he complained that he was not familiar with the case and had not been briefed of the circumstances.
Where Paumen was concerned, attorney Herbert Panton argued vigorously against the arraignment, stating that the conditions of Paumen’s Supreme Court bail stipulated that if he were arrested for any other offence he should be taken back in front of the Supreme Court and not the Magistrate’s Court. Magistrate Hoare, after hearing arguments from Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Cheryl Lyn-Vidal, proceeded with the arraignment.
Paumen and Anderson have been remanded until March 8th, and can seek Supreme Court bail, but it is unlikely that they would receive it a second time. Abadi and Park are more fortunate. Magistrate Albert Hoare has agreed to hear applications for bail on their behalf in Cayo on Friday.