October 26, 2012 2:50 PM
PHILIPSBURG – Prosecutor Hans Mos demanded 4 years imprisonment against Jose V. yesterday for his involvement in four burglaries and membership of a criminal organization.
In May the court sentenced co-conspirator Brian Henson to 5 years imprisonment (with 1 year suspended), and Felix Denis-Lopez to 41 months with 4 months suspended. The same day in May Denis-Lopez was sentenced to 18 months with 4 months suspended for another series of burglaries. The prosecution considers V. one of the leaders together with Henson. Judge Tamara Tijhuis will pronounce her verdict on November 14.
Jose V., known to Henson as Juan Carlos, is accused of involvement in two home burglaries on January 12, a burglary at Cash for Gold on January 19, a heist at the Caribbean Gems jewelry store on January 23 and an attempted burglary at the Caribbean Liquor store on January 31.
At Cash for Gold the burglars took $5,000 in cash and $4,000 worth of jewelry, but their big hit was at Caribbean Gems where they made off with $340,000 worth of jewelry.
Jose V. denied all charges with a standard answer: “I don’t know anything about that.” He left the island on February 9 – according to prosecutor Hans Mos because things got too hot for him in St. Maarten. The 38-year-old defendant denied he fled and pointed out that he came back.
The prosecution said that the key to proving his involvement in the burglaries is that the Juan Carlos that surfaced in phone taps is in fact the defendant. He was identified as such by Brian Henson.
mr. Mos considered proven that V. played a leading role in the crimes and demanded for the burglaries and membership of a criminal organizations 4 years imprisonment. The prosecutor announced that his office will also initiate a procedure to seize assets from the defendant to take away the benefits he got out of especially the burglary at Caribbean Gems.
Attorney Nerissa de la Rosa asked the court to exclude the phone taps from evidence and she labeled statements made by Henson against her client as implausible. Without the phone taps, there is no proof, mr. De la Rosa said. She asked the court to acquit her client of all charges, including the membership of a criminal organization. “There was no structural cooperation,” she said.