(Jamaica Observer) NEW YORK, USA — Almost three years after United States authorities requested his extradition on drug and gunrunning charges, former Tivoli Gardens strongman Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke faces the final chapter in the long-running saga, when he is sentenced here tomorrow.
The question on everybody’s minds here is whether or not Judge Robert P Patterson will impose the maximum 23-year sentence under the plea bargain arrangement entered into between prosecutors and Coke’s defence team last August.
In an interview with the Observer, US Federal defence attorney Wayne Golding gave an insight into how the sentencing could turn out. He said that there is no way of knowing if Judge Patterson will impose the maximum sentence, which is what is being sought by prosecutors. According to Golding, the judge will examine a raft of issues — known in legal circles as the book of factors — as part of the sentencing guidelines.
Among these factors, Golding said, is a probation report which is only available to prosecutors and Coke’s defence team. He said that other factors will include Coke’s family history, education, cooperation, and whether or not the plea bargain arrangement was done in a timely manner.
Golding said that the fact that Coke pleaded guilty to lesser charges than for what he was originally charged, “will also be taken into consideration by the judge”. He said that he was confident that “Judge Patterson will be fair in his sentencing”.
While Coke, who has been in custody since June 2010 — could possible benefit from time served, Golding said he will not be considered for parole. Coke has had his sentencing postponed on three occasions since December of last year.
Coke was extradited to the US after eluding the Jamaican security forces for a month after escaping a dragnet in his former stronghold of Tivoli Gardens, West Kingston.
More than 70 people died in a gun battle when police and soldiers forced their way into a barricaded Tivoli Gardens to serve an arrest warrant on Coke, the revered community leader in the tough inner-city community. He was finally held in a police roadblock on the Mandela Highway in St Catherine and later waived his rights to an extradition hearing.