J'can-born husband of US politician's aide sentenced to prison for drug traffickingFriday, May 07, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Jamaican-born husband of the chief of staff to state Assembly Speaker Carl E Heastie was yesterday sentenced to 76 months in prison and ordered to pay US$136,000 to the Internal Revenue Service for his earlier guilty plea to cocaine trafficking and tax evasion charges.
Orlando Dennis, 32, who moved to the United States in 2008, was described by federal prosecutors as a US$25,000-a-year bakery delivery driver who had been living a lavish lifestyle from drug trafficking, according to US media.
Dennis married to Heastie's chief of staff, Jevonni Brooks-Dennis, in 2017.
Times Union reported that Brooks-Dennis wrote a letter to the federal judge in her husband's case seeking leniency and describing him as "a loving husband, father, brother, and a friend to many.
"In our relationship he has always gone above and beyond to make sure both myself and our children are happy and taken care of," her letter continued. "It always warms my heart to see the loving relationship he shares with our daughter and the joy he takes in being a dad."
Dennis also received letters of support, describing him as caring and hardworking, from co-workers, supervisors and a former high school principal.
The US attorney's office offered a contrasting view of Dennis, describing him as the leader of a drug trafficking group who lied about the source of his income and threatened violence against someone he believed responsible for losing a bag of cocaine at an airport, said Times Union.
It is further reported that prior to his arrest, Dennis "had for years been making hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash profits that are unexplained by any legitimate business, suggesting that this was not his first narcotics offense." Prosecutors asked the judge to sentence him to between 87 and 108 months in prison.
Federal prosecutors said Brooks-Dennis had apparently benefited from her husband's illicitly gained wealth but she was not accused of wrongdoing. Still, her government salary was not enough to support their opulent lifestyle that included large expenditures on designer clothing and accessories, prosecutors said in court filings.
Assembly payroll records indicated that around the time of her husband's arrest, Brooks-Dennis was paid about US$75,000 in a six-month period — from September 2019 to March 2020.
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