The trial of former Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) employee who is seeking asylum in the United States of America gets underway today at the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility in Batavia, New York.
Barnes, who fled Guyana to the USA in 2009 to escape possible fraud charges that involves millions of dollars, was arrested in New York in February on an Interpol warrant.
He has been in federal custody since his arrest. He continues to be represented by Attorney Kurt R. Saccone, a former U.S. Department of Justice official, who practices U.S. Immigration Law in New York.
When contacted for a comment, Mr. Saccone stated, “We will not comment on trial strategy. We are confident, and Gregory thanks all his friends for their continued support throughout this ordeal.”
Barnes received special permission to get married while in jail, which is believed to have delayed his deportation hearing several months to his advantage.
It is now clear that Barnes is seeking lawful status in the United States. However, his strategy has not been revealed.
Back in February this year, a Buffalo News online report said that Cheektowaga police pulled over a four-door gold-colored Infiniti Sedan for an expired inspection and illegal tinted windows.
Cheektowaga is part of the state of New York.
It turned out that the Guyanese driver of George Urban Boulevard in Cheektowaga was wanted by Interpol.
A computer check revealed there was an active warrant through Interpol on Barnes who was suspected of embezzling somewhere between $6M and $300M from GRA.
This newspaper had earlier reported that in 2009, Barnes fled Guyana after he was reportedly being investigated for allegedly defrauding GRA of over $300M.
Local investigators, who badly wanted to get their hands on him, turned to Interpol for help and posted a wanted bulletin.
Investigators believed back then that Barnes conspired with other staffers, including an IT official of GRA, to delete evidence of taxes and duties paid by businesses to the agency from the main database.
However, the fraud unraveled after the IT employee failed to delete a payment made. The cashier was reportedly questioned for two days by GRA before he fled the country.
Another staffer, Garfield Pearson, of South Ruimveldt Park, was charged with four counts of embezzlement. It was alleged that in October 2009, at the GRA Head Office, located then on Main Street, he stole over $6M from his employer, the GRA.
Pearson was Systems Engineer at the time and was posted in the Information Technology department, the Prosecution said. Barnes had reportedly fled Guyana in the midst of the investigations.
The police contended in the charges against Pearson and Barnes that between January 2008 and October 2009, the latter was employed as cashier. It was alleged that the two conspired to steal over $3M paid by businesses for containers by deleting records of the transactions on the GRA system.
Barnes was allegedly caught with $1M cash in his possession, according to Prosecutors.
GRA sources, back in 2009, said that the scheme was much larger and a total up to $300M may have been lost in revenues by GRA and by extension, the state.
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