Earl 'Bob' Hodge
Drug accused Earl `Bob´ Hodge has moved to the court seeking to have the $427,000.00 which was forfeited to government in May released to him.
Mr. Hodge has filed in the Court of Appeal for the monies which were found in August, 2011 during a police raid at the Towers West End home of his daughter, Sasha Hodge.
Mr. Hodge who has taken ownership of the monies wants the Court of Appeal to overturn Senior Magistrate Tamia Richards´ decision to forfeit the money to Government.
Mr. Hodge´s daughter who was on trial for acquisition, possession and use of proceeds of criminal conduct, was acquitted of the charges in May. However, the DPP's office through Senior Crown Counsel Valston Graham made an application for the monies to be forfeited to Government.
Following the hearing Senior Magistrate Richards ruled in favour of the crown. The application was made under section 37 (A) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 1997 as amended.
Sasha Hodge had claimed that she did not know who the monies belonged to stating that it did not belong to her father, Mr. Hodge nor her mother, Violet `Letty´ Hodge. However, in his application for the monies to be released to him, Mr. Hodge stated that it belonged to him.
In relation to the forfeiture, Mr. Hodge in his appeal stated that at the time the monies were seized he was in police custody and in a caution statement to investigators accepted that the monies belonged to him.
He explained that he used a key he had in his possession to open a padlock attached to the bag in which the monies were found.
Mr. Hodge further claims that he was not given an opportunity to contest the Crown´s application for forfeiture.
According to Mr. Hodge´s appeal, the Magistrate `acted ultra vires´ in making a confiscated order for monies and she erred in fact and in law when she made the order that the sum of $427,000.000 belonging to Mr. Hodge be forfeited to the crown.
Mr. Hodge is seeking that the decision of the Magistrate be set aside; an order that the funds be released to him, the Crown pays the costs of the appeal; and such further or other relief the court deems just.
Mr. Hodge along with Mr. Chad Skelton, Mr. Roberto `Tico´ Harrigan, Mr. Chad Skelton; Mr. Carlston Beazer; and Mr. Juan Valdez are all at Her Majesty´s Prison contesting extradition to the United States in relation to an alleged 13-year drug ring.
At the May forfeiture hearing, Prosecutor Graham during his arguments said that they were seeking the forfeiture of the monies on the basis that they believed the monies were proceeds of crime or intended to be used as proceeds of crime.
He argued that on August 24, 2011, the monies were found in a knapsack which was in a black suitcase at Hodge's home, but she denied any knowledge of the monies and the knapsack.
Mr. Graham pointed out that the monies were not of legitimate origin based on Hodge's denial, no family member having knowledge as Hodge claimed and the way in which the monies were sealed in plastic airtight bags that had been wrapped in duct tape.
The Prosecutor went on to argue that under section 37 (B) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 1997, the court only has to be satisfied on the balance of probability.
During the hearing, the crown relied heavily on the sworn affidavit of Detective Elvis Richards.
Meanwhile, the DPP has also appealed Senior Magistrate Richards´ decision to acquit Sasha Hodge on the acquisition, possession or use of proceeds of criminal conduct charge.
According to court records, the DPP is appealing on the grounds that the decision of the learned magistrate is unreasonable or cannot be supported having regard to the evidence.