Credit card swindler wants medical help

POSTED: 03/18/15 8:13 PM

St. Maarten – That Edward de Bies has serious medical issues is clear to everyone, but about the consequences this should have for his detention the prosecution and the defense are at opposite ends of the spectrum. On October 22 of last year, the Court in First Instance sentenced the 40-year-old De Bies to 36 months of imprisonment for credit card fraud and the embezzlement of a rental car. Yesterday his attorney Shaira Bommel asked to Common Court of Justice to consider her client’s health and to hand down a more lenient sentence.

De Bies told the court that appealed his verdict because others who had committed similar crimes had received more lenient sentences and because of his deteriorating health. “I am waiting already four to five months for a doctor,” he said, explaining that the eye specialist who had examined him had passed away and that there is no alternative on the island.

The defendant suffers from glaucoma, a condition that affects the eye’s optic nerve. Over time the condition never improves – it deteriorates. “I am already blind on one eye and I fear that I will lose my other eye as well,” De Bies said. “I suffer from panic attacks because of this. I do understand that I did something wrong and that I deserve punishment, but my health is more important.”

Bommel said that the prison is giving her client the runaround and that every time there is another reason why he cannot travel to Curacao for treatment. “One reason was that there is no budget to let guards travel with my client to Curacao,” the attorney said. “He risks going blind and all he gets in prison are paracetamol and cheap eye drops. It is dramatic.”

Solicitor-General Taco Stein expressed his surprise. “I do not understand the medical situation. The Public Prosecutor’s Office has authority over the detention and I have not heard anything so far about this situation. We have a mutual agreement between the countries about detention on medical grounds. We are able to arrange this.”

Attorney Bommel was astonished: “The prosecutor’s office told me that I had to go to the director of the prison, so I did that. Now I hear this.”

The Court in First Instance sentenced De Bies last year for credit card fraud and embezzlement of a stolen car. With forged credit cards backed up by forged identity papers he bought clothing, car parts, household articles, building materials, a scooter and tires for a total amount of close to $21,300. The defendant did the purchases between December 28, 2013 and January 31, 2014 at Metro Opera in Cupecoy, Marshall Motors, Kooijman, Simpson Bay Motors and Marine Services and East Motors Cay Hill.

Yesterday De Bies said that he had received between seven and nine forged credit cards from two men to whom he was indebted for $1,500. Through his illicit transactions he paid off the debt.

The men who gave him the credit cards where always around when he purchased goods and he immediately handed over the articles to them.

Solicitor-General Stein noted that the sentence handed down by the Court in First Instance is just and he asked the court to impose again a 36-month prison sentence. The court will pronounce its verdict on April 1.


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