Wah wa's woes worsen
BY BRIAN BONITTO Associate Editor - Auto and Entertainment firstname.lastname@example.org
JAMAICAN disc jock ZJ Wah Wa, who was arrested in Florida on wire fraud and money laundering charges earlier this month, will be tried in a North Dakota court.
The disc jock (given name Deon-ville O'Hara) was ordered transferred to that state when he appeared in court Tuesday.
It is, however, unclear where he is being held.
Keith Reisenauer, assistant attorney in the United States Attorney's Office for the District of North Dakota, confirmed the transfer, but had no records on the disc jock's whereabouts.
"We have no information on where he's being held," Reisenauer told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.
"The US Marshals have him in their custody... and no date has yet been set for his court appearance," was all he disclosed.
The disc jock, who is employed to Zip 103 FM, was arrested by US law enforcement authorities during a visit to Florida. It is alleged he helped run a lottery scam in Jamaica that induced American victims to send millions of dollars for 'lottery winnings'.
Once the parties were duped, it is alleged ZJ Wah Wa travelled to the US and picked up money from the victims.
He is charged on three counts, including conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, and money laundering. Each count carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.
Herman F Rubio Jr, the Florida attorney who represented ZJ Wah Wa, specialises in drug trafficking, money laundering and securities fraud. He said he will be represented by a new attorney 'up north'.
D'Adra Williams, ZIP 103 FM's station manager, issued a statement on the company's position yesterday.
"We will allow the due process of the law to take place, where persons are given the benefit of the doubt and presumed innocent until proven guilty. Our employees will be extended the same courtesy," the statement read.
The Associated Press reported that the victims are an 83-year-old North Dakota woman who sent seven cheques amounting to US$158,000 after being promised US$19 million in winnings; and a South Dakota man who sent a US$14,000 cheque after being promised US$3.5 million and a Mercedes-Benz.
In response to complaints from the American government, the Jamaican government set up a lottery scam task force in 2009 to stamp out the illegal activity.