USA, Wed. Sept. 15, 2021– Earlier this week, news broke that former Deputy Director of the Belize Tax Services, Reynaldo Verde, had accepted a plea deal in connection with the extortion charges levied against him by the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
In 2019, Verde was arrested after disembarking a flight from Brussels, Belgium, on his way back to Belize and has since been in the custody of the American authorities.
He recently pleaded guilty on the second count of the accusation against him: attempted interference with commerce by extortion. This charge is in relation to Verde’s attempted extortion of $1 million from Chris Williams, an American developer connected to Orchid Bay Development in northern Belize.
Williams was persuaded to meet with Verde after being informed of the company’s accrued tax obligations, which, according to Williams, was estimated to be almost $700,000. Williams recorded the conversation, during which Verde attempted to suggest that Williams owed 1 million dollars in back taxes.
The developer went to the FBI after the meeting, who launched an investigation into Verde’s dealings and subsequently arrested him at an airport on September 7, 2019.
He may now face a maximum of 20 years imprisonment, despite taking a plea bargain from the Justice Department. The Federal Sentencing Guidelines and Policy does not expressly require a court to follow its sentencing guideline in cases where plea bargains are made.
If the cards line up in his favor, he may be released within the next year or two if he cooperates in the investigation.
The case is being heard in the US District Court of Southern Florida.