Former BVI Premier's Guilty Verdict Faces Unprecedented Challenge After Jurors Express Doubt

Court confronts rare challenge as jurors question decision in drug-trafficking case

  • Staff Consortium
  • February 13, 2024

Former BVI Premier Andrew Fahie

In an unexpected turn following the conviction of former British Virgin Islands Premier Andrew Fahie for drug-trafficking conspiracy, two jurors have expressed doubts about their decision, presenting a unique legal dilemma.

Fahie was found guilty last Thursday in Miami federal court on charges of conspiring to import cocaine into the United States, along with three related charges of money laundering and racketeering, after a two-week trial and just four hours of deliberation.

Minutes after the unanimous decision was reached, two of the 12 jurors reached out to U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams, indicating a change of heart and stating they did not agree with the conviction. This revelation came after Judge Williams had already polled each juror and discharged them, sealing Fahie's guilty verdict.

The situation has led to an unusual legal quandary, with Judge Williams, federal prosecutors, and Fahie’s defense team grappling with whether it is possible or even permissible to reconvene the jurors for re-polling. Legal precedents in South Florida and beyond traditionally do not allow for such a move, barring evidence of external pressure or bias during deliberations, neither of which has been suggested in Fahie's case.

During a post-verdict hearing on Monday, federal prosecutors maintained that the original verdicts should stand, citing the jurors' discharge. In contrast, Fahie’s defense, led by attorney Theresa Van Vliet, has called for a re-polling of the two jurors in question, highlighting the serious implications of the main conviction, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years to life imprisonment.

Adding to the complexity, Van Vliet revealed that one of the jurors left a voicemail on her law firm's phone, the contents of which have not been disclosed. Judge Williams has proposed that both parties review the voicemail privately and reconvene to discuss potential motions that could address this unprecedented situation.

The legal community is watching closely as both sides are tasked with filing motions by Thursday to explore limited avenues for resolution. The outcomes could range from upholding the verdicts to declaring a mistrial, which would necessitate a new trial with a different jury.

Fahie was arrested in April 2022 during a DEA sting operation, which unfolded as he visited Miami for a cruise convention. The operation implicated Fahie and Oleanvine Pickering Maynard, BVI’s port director, in a scheme to allow cocaine shipments through BVI ports, facilitated by an informant posing as a member of the Sinaloa cartel. Following his arrest, Fahie was removed from his position as BVI’s premier, a role he had held since February 2019.

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