United States of America Immigration Judge John Reid has found former Guyana Revenue Authority clerk, Gregory Barnes, committed no crimes and adjusted his status to that of a lawful permanent resident of that country.
The decision was handed down from the bench at the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility in Batavia, New York, after a full trial conducted last week.
It is a further blow to the reputation and integrity of the Guyana Revenue Authority and its embattled Commissioner General Khurshid Sattaur.
Barnes was represented at the trial, and throughout his incarceration, by former US Department of Justice official and Immigration Attorney, Kurt R. Saccone.
The former GRA staffer had been fighting extradition and deportation to Guyana since his arrest in upstate New York on February 24, 2014.
The Guyana authorities maintain that he is wanted here in connection with a $300M fraud.
They had issued an arrest warrant which was sent to Interpol after it was determined that Barnes had fled the jurisdiction.
Barnes’s American attorney told this newspaper that as a result of the judge’s decision, his client will no longer have to apply for asylum in the United States of America.
“The Immigration Judge granted Gregory permanent resident status in the United States. After hearing all our evidence, the US Department of Homeland Security concurred and Gregory walked out of jail with a “green card.” Gregory did not apply for asylum – that remains his option for another day.
Judge Reid found that Gregory committed no crime; therefore we believe this issue has been put to rest here in the United States. And it should be no surprise; the same GRA evidence brought to bear against Gregory’s co-defendant, Garfield Pearson, in the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court resulted in the charge
being dismissed on September 30, 2011.
Gregory is pleased that he did not have to apply for asylum from his beloved Guyana, and the GRA should be pleased as well,” Saccone stated.
Back in February, Barnes was initially stopped for a non-moving traffic violation by Cheektowaga, New York Police, and when his identity was run through the databases, it was revealed that Barnes was the subject of an Interpol wanted notice issued by Guyana and that he had overstayed his US visa.
Barnes was turned over to the US Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and detained at the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility in Batavia, New York without option for bond.
Barnes was in federal custody since February.
Through his Attorney Saccone, Barnes had previously made it known that he was prepared to fight extradition by applying for asylum from Guyana.
Saccone was prepared to subpoena Guyana officials related to the GRA allegations, in any asylum trial.
There were concerns that local officials would not have treated the subpoenas favourably and it remains unclear how the US Embassy in Georgetown would have viewed a US visa holder’s non-compliance with US federal subpoenas.
However, Barnes’s trial was delayed so that he could obtain special permission from authorities to get married while in jail.
In the end, Barnes did not have to apply for asylum.
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