By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
A BULGARIAN, who admitted being involved in a credit card scam, is now seeking to have the Court of Appeal overturn his conviction and one-year sentence.
Kostadin Karchav, 38, appeared before Justices Anita Allen, Abdulai Conteh and Jon Isaacs yesterday for a hearing stemming from nine criminal charges which he admitted to committing when arraigned in February.
Karchav’s new lawyer, Geoffrey Farquharson, informed the presiding panel that he had been in discussions with Crown respondent Ambrose Armbrister regarding the matter and that it was still the Crown’s intention to defend the conviction and sentence.
Mr Farquharson said if the appellate court agreed with the 11 grounds of appeal filed, “then this would’ve been a malicious prosecution.”
Karchav, when arraigned before Magistrate Derence Rolle-Davis earlier in the year, pleaded guilty to two counts of unauthorised access to a computer with the intent to commit or facilitate an offence and seven counts of possession of forged documents.
Mr Rolle-Davis sentenced Karchav to concurrent one-year sentences on all nine charges, ordered $76,621 to be forfeited to the Crown in addition to a car that Karchav said he bought with some of the stolen money.
Karchav had been in the country since 2014 and relayed, to his countrymen, information about the models of the ATM machines he observed. His accomplices replied with information on credit and debit cards, which he uploaded to gift cards he had brought with him when he travelled to the Bahamas.
Central Detective Unit officers conducted surveillance on the home where Karchav was staying in Sea Breeze Estates on February 14.
The officers stopped Karchav when he pulled up to the home. When they searched his room, they found an assortment of gift cards with credit and debit card information on them and $76,621.
Justice Allen yesterday said that malice, intent or lack thereof in the prosecution of the matter was not for the appellate court to determine and that the lawyer knew what legal steps to take if his client was of that view.
Mr Farquharson said his client is also asking for the monies and properties seized to be released to the appellant in addition to having the conviction and sentence overturned.
“You indicated in your first ground of appeal that the magistrate accepted an equivocal guilty plea?” Justice Isaacs asked.
“You’d have to establish this court’s jurisdiction for that argument to be heard,” Justice Conteh added.
“The magistrate’s own notes indicate that he recorded an equivocal guilty plea,” the lawyer said.
“There’s also a note by the magistrate that your client allowed the guilty plea to stand,” Justice Isaacs said.
“If you had said the magistrate erred in disallowing the appellant to change his plea, that would be different,” Justice Conteh added, emphasising that in its current form the appeal before the court showed that Karchav had entered an unequivocal plea.
Mr Farquharson noted that Karchav never accepted the facts put to him but Justice Allen said this was not the case based on the notes of the magistrate.
Justice Allen said the panel would not delve further into the matter, as the appeal was not being heard at that time.
Mr Farquharson asked the appellate court to assist him with obtaining a report done by the Financial Intelligence Unit clearing his client of any wrongdoing regarding funds in his Royal Bank of Canada account.
Mr Armbrister interjected that the report in question was a separate and ongoing investigation of the police that had no relevance to the current proceedings.
The Crown respondent then highlighted Section 233 of the Criminal Procedure Code, Chapter 9, which bars an appeal against conviction where the appellant has pleaded guilty to an offence.
“I’m wondering how he hasn’t addressed the court on this,” said Mr Armbrister.
Mr Farquharson replied that case authorities existed that note that a conviction must be lawful in order for it to stand.
The substantive hearing of the matter is now scheduled for June 11.