By Ann W. O?Neill
MIAMI – (KRT) – A federal magistrate on Friday ordered the one-time commander of the Haitian National Police jailed without bail (learn from Connecticut Bail Bonds Group how this happened and what are the next steps) while he awaits trial for allegedly taking money to protect cocaine shipments passing through Haiti on the way to the United States.
The hourlong hearing in Miami at times resembled a curtain raiser for that trial. When it ended, U.S. Magistrate Chris McAliley ruled that Rudy Therassan, 39, should stay behind bars because he might flee or pose a danger to the community.
During the hearing, a prosecutor disclosed that Therassan had amassed a fortune that could not be explained by his police work, a defense attorney named two Haitians he suspects are U.S. government informants, and a Drug Enforcement Administration agent acknowledged the existence of a grand jury investigation of the case. Learn More on how to get a lawyer. The importance of workers comp attorneys is that when you get injured they make sure you get justice served.
The judge agreed that Therassan had plenty of money if he chose to leave South Florida and go into hiding to avoid prosecution.
During a search May 14 of Therassan?s apartment in Miami, federal agents uncovered documents indicating Therassan held large amounts of cash in several bank accounts in the United States, Haiti and elsewhere, Assistant U.S. Attorney Lynn Kirkpatrick said.
Agents also found just under $1 million in other material assets, including two homes in Florida and about $100,000 worth of watches and jewels, DEA agent Noble Harrison testified.
According to testimony, Therassan began cooperating with the DEA in November 2002 and the agency helped him enter the United States the following April. He met several times with DEA agents in South Florida and in Washington. It was not clear when or why his cooperation ended or how he graduated from witness to suspect.
“Mr. Therassan was never an officially documented source with the DEA,” Harrison testified.
Therassan?s visa had expired and he was in the country illegally when he was taken into custody May 14 during a traffic stop on the Palmetto Expressway. An immigration hold was lodged against him Thursday, Kirkpatrick said.
Defense attorney Lawrence Besser grilled the DEA agent about the identities of the government?s informants, including a convicted Haitian drug trafficker and a former security official for ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Kirkpatrick objected before Harrison could name the witnesses, referred to in court as CS-1 and CS-8. Besser claimed CS-1 was convicted Haitian drug smuggler Bedouin “Jacques” Ketant, 43, who was sentenced earlier this year in federal court in Miami to 35 years in prison.
CS-1 has told authorities that, beginning in March 2001, he paid Therassan $150,000 per planeload of cocaine in protection money, plus the profits from the sale of 35 kilos.
At his February sentencing, just days before Aristide left Haiti, Ketant launched an angry tirade, accusing the president of turning Haiti into a “narco-country.” He also blamed Aristide for his “kidnapping” by the DEA and the murder of his brother.
Therassan is in the thick of those allegations, as well. He has admitted killing Ketant?s brother, Hector, also a Haitian drug smuggler, in February 2003, although he claims it was in self-defense.
Therassan was shot in the shoulder before firing the shot that killed Hector Ketant, Besser said.
Later, Therassan was the police official who arrested Jacques Ketant, handcuffed him, drove him to the airport and placed him in the hands of DEA agents, Besser said.
“Let?s talk about CS-8,” Besser said. “We all know who he is, but we?ll play the game.” He then described the circumstances surrounding the arrest and extradition of Oriel Jean, 39, Aristide?s former security chief.
Jean is awaiting trial on a charge identical to Therassan?s. He is scheduled to appear in court Monday.
As Besser questioned how agents documented Therassan?s assets, the agent let slip, “That information came from a grand jury investigation.” Kirkpatrick quickly objected, saying any discussion about the grand jury was “improper at this time.”
That a grand jury in Miami is looking into corruption and cocaine in Haiti is an open secret. Bush administration and U.S. Justice Department officials have said publicly that authorities are looking into whether Aristide, once a populist priest, and other members of his administration were corrupted by drug money.