One of three pleads guilty in handling stolen goods from sea pirating case

We reported yesterday of the attack on a group of visitors to Belize who were staying aboard a vessel anchored at Middle Long Caye. The vlcsnap-2016-01-20-11h49m48s566group were robbed of their valuables at gunpoint, some of which have since been recovered. Late on Monday, police arrested and charged three persons for handling stolen goods, and brought more charges today. Arraigned late Monday evening before Magistrate Carlon Mendoza was mother, Florita Pineda, her son, 20 year old Jason Cortez, an unemployed labourer of Belize City, along with his friend, 22 year old Bradwick Lino, a labourer of Belize City. Lino was accused of dishonestly assisting in the retention of a black binoculars, valued at 750 US dollars, property of John Bickford, which he was found with on Saturday, January 16, 2016. Pineda and her son were jointly charged with handling stolen goods for dishonestly assisting in the retention of 3 hard drives, valued at 600 US dollars, property of John Bickford, also found on the same date. Lino pleaded guilty, saying that he found the items while heading to Pineda’s residence, retrieved the binoculars and hard drives specifically and went to ask Cortez what to do with them; neither was home at the time. He denied knowing the items were stolen. Meanwhile, Cortez also tried to plead guilty but his explanation was rejected. The court was unhappy to hear that a police officer who searched the house tried to persuade the trio to plead guilty after being charged. The magistrate decided to sentence Lino to 3 months’ imprisonment, while releasing Pineda and Cortez on bail of $1,500 each subject to the usual conditions: reporting to the Mahogany Street Police Station on Mondays (Pineda) and Mondays and Fridays (Cortez) and avoid other criminal activity, despite objections based on vlcsnap-2016-01-20-11h49m32s529continuing investigation and potential interference. In any event, both Lino and Cortez were taken back to police custody after appearing in court. John Bickford, American retiree, reported that at around 10:00 p.m. Wednesday, January 13, 2016, he was at sea working. Around 4:00 that evening, he anchored his vessel near Middle Long Caye. Later he and a group of friends were awakened by two men who demanded money. Their rooms were ransacked and a number of items stolen. Police investigations led them to search the home of Lino where the binoculars were recovered. Acting on information received from Lino, they then visited Florita Pineda’s home located on Balan Street where they found the three hard drives and charged both Pineda and her 20 year old son. Florita Pineda was able to post bail late yesterday evening and both relatives return to court on March 16, 2016. This afternoon, Lino and Cortez were jointly charged with the aggravated burglary on Bickford’s catamaran at Middle Long Caye. The two are accused of entering the vessel whilst armed with a firearm and stealing a purse 11 chase cards, Samsung tablet, hard drives, 15 horse power engine and other items value over 3 thousand US Dollars, property of John and Lela Bickford. They were also charged with stealing from Christy Williams, a wedding ring and a tablet. Value unknown and Debit cards and US cash unknown property of John Horton. Lino alone appeared before Magistrate Carlon Mendoza and initially no plea was taken but when he was asked how he would like to be tried, summarily or indictment, he chose a summary trial at the lower court and pleaded not guilty to the charge. Cortez who was before the court this morning in Court #1 for another handling stolen goods for bank officer Raymond Garcia items was granted $1,000 bail which he met and went home.  Once again, Lino told the court he has no knowledge of any break in on a catamaran and that he only had knowledge of the hard drives and the binoculars which he admitted to taking from inside a bag he found through an alley. Lino was remanded and returns on these charges with Cortez on March 16, 2016.

About the Author