By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
A MAGISTRATE seized more than $35,000 from an American man who lied to authorities about the amount of money in his possession before his scheduled return to the United States.
Magistrate Samuel McKinney asked 53-year-old Steve Yoo Won Jang of Newark, Delaware, if he understood the severity of the two charges to which he pleaded guilty concerning the crimes committed on August 25.
The American was told that the penalties for making a false declaration to an officer of the United States and failing to declare carried a fine and/or a term of imprisonment.
Mr Won Jang’s response was that he was “very sorry”.
“It was mistake. I wasn’t thinking,” he added.
Won Jang was returning to the United States when US Customs and Border Patrol officials detained him at the Pre-clearance Departure Lounge at the Lynden Pindling International Airport for failing to declare $35,625 and lying to a US official that he was not carrying cash in excess of US $10,000 into the US.
“If you are travelling to a foreign destination, you ought to familiarise yourself with that country’s laws and regulations,” the magistrate said.
At the end of the proceedings, Magistrate McKinney accepted the defendant’s guilty plea, but did not fine or give him a custodial sentence. Instead, the magistrate ordered the $35,625 to be forfeited to the Crown.
He further informed the American that he would have to contact his family to make arrangements for him to get back to the United States.
“If you decide to return here, you are not to (offend) any laws of the Bahamas, do you understand me? You should read any documents you come across fully before placing your signature on it,” the judge said.
The defendant thanked the judge and apologised again for his wrongdoing.