A Russian man who had claimed that he fled his country out of fear for his life was fined $150,000 in the St James Parish Court on Friday for uttering a fraudulent immigration stamp to immigration officials.
Fedor Gorbunov, 33, of Omsk City, Russia, arrived in Jamaica two weeks ago and stated that he had to leave his homeland because he refused to take part in the war with Ukraine and was fleeing persecution.
Last Monday, he pleaded not guilty to uttering a forged document then changed his plea on Friday to guilty.
In mitigation, Gorbunov's attorney, Chumu Paris, indicated to the court that he conducted enquiries and found some merit in what his client had said about risking persecution if he returned to Russia.
Paris stated that his actions were not intentional and that he simply made a poor decision, given the circumstances.
"However, he wishes to do the proper thing, but is asking the court to allow him to leave with his dignity," Paris added.
Parish Judge Sasha-Marie Smith-Ashley took Gorbunov's guilty plea into account, but noted that she recognised that there was a lapse in judgement.
"Your circumstances are peculiar and you had outlined the challenges you were experiencing in your homeland," Smith-Ashley stated before imposing a $150,000 fine or 20 days in jail on him.
She did not issue a deportation order.
Friends of the accused flew in from another country to assist him, and arrangements are being made for him to depart the country.
On February 25, about 1:30 pm, the investigating officer was on duty at the Investigation Unit at Sangster International Airport when he received information and conducted a secondary interview with Gorbunov who had arrived on a Copa Airlines flight from Panama City.
His passport was checked and an Immigration Work Permit endorsement impression to accept employment had modified his status to stay in the island until April 9, 2025.
He later revealed to the officer that he did not receive the stamp from immigration and had paid a man in Kingston US$5,000 for the endorsement in order to stay in Jamaica for an extended period of time.
He was taken into custody and when cautioned, Gorbunov reportedly said, "Officer, please send me back to Colombia because if I go back to Russia I am going to be killed because I refused to fight in the war."
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