One of 3 defendants in N.Y. drug trial again files to move case to St. Croix


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ST. CROIX - Attorneys for one defendant in the trial of three St. Croix natives charged in a drug conspiracy case filed last spring in the District Court of the Southern District of New York have filed a renewed motion asking that the case be transferred to St. Croix.

St. Croix businessman Gary Thomas along with Kirk Tang Yuk and Felix Parilla, who both live in Florida but are from St. Croix and still have ties to the island, are charged in a grand jury indictment with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute it during the conspiracy window, which prosecutors said lasted from September 2012 until April 2013.

The motion for the transfer initially was filed in February by Thomas and Tang Yuk but subsequently was denied after Judge Alison Nathan determined that the sole reason for seeking the transfer was convenience.

On the first day of trial Tuesday, Thomas renewed the motion primarily on the grounds that he will be prejudiced because the jury is not familiar with the Crucian dialect and additionally because attorneys say none of the crimes were committed in the Southern District of New York.

Special circumstances have been realized concerning the audio recordings and transcripts associated with those recordings, as well as the lack of venue in the Southern District of New York, require transfer of the case to St. Croix, according to the motion.

The motion states that law enforcement officers conducted a wiretap investigation targeting the defendants that intercepted a large volume of phone calls and other communications that may be intended to be presented to the jury, but the person proffered as a patois expert for purposes of interpreting the Crucian dialect and presenting those interpretations to the jury is herself not familiar with the Crucian dialect.

The motion states that the woman is from Jamaica and is qualified to explain that the transcripts contain the transcription of heavily accented English and several types of patois deriving from multiple islands. The attorneys said Thomas is not Jamaican nor does he speak patois.

"As such, Mr. Thomas's fate now lies in the hands of a jury that is unfamiliar with the dialect of defendants and others in the audio recordings, as well as a Jamaica patois expert whose testimony the jury will rely on to translate an unfamiliar dialect," the motion read.

The government also produced thousands of pages of evidence just days before trial, according to the motion.

"A review of that evidence reveals that none of the defendants nor any of the alleged co-conspirators, including the government's cooperating witness, set foot or had any contact whatsoever with the Southern District of New York. As such, venue in the Southern District of New York is not proper and this case must be transferred," the motion states.

The trial is expected to continue its second day of testimony today.

- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email fstokes@dailynews.vi.

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