Judge denies bail for cash smuggler pilot

Khamraj Lall

Guyanese pilot Khamraj Lall’s bid to be granted bail pending his trial on new money laundering and drug trafficking charges has been denied by New Jersey District Judge Steven C. Mannion.

Mannion made the decision after a review and a bail hearing based on an application made by Lall, through his lawyer Michael D’Alessio Jr, who argued that he is neither a flight risk nor a violent person.

D’Alessio Jr had pointed out that the presumption of risk of flight and danger to the community did not apply to his client. In his application, he had argued that to deny his client on the basis of him being a flight risk was wrong and unsubstantiated since he had no means to flee the jurisdiction and his bail package serves to eliminate both his ability to leave the jurisdiction and any incentive to do so.

On the point of his client being a danger to the community, as is assumed in such cases, the lawyer had pointed out that no court had deemed him so nor had the government alleged that he posed a threat. Rather, he said Lall was detained solely on the basis of him being viewed as a flight risk.

However, the United States Assistant Attorney Jonathan M. Peck, in response had pointed out that the same court had denied Lall bail on September 17th, 2015, when he faced charges similar to the ones he now faces.

He had said that the bail application should be denied because it was untimely, it presented information and evidence that were previously submitted to the court or known to the defendant during prior bail hearings, and it failed to demonstrate how continued incarceration will impact any constitutional right.

In 2016, Lall was sentenced by US District Judge Jay A. Garcia-Gregory to one year in prison and his private jet and over half a million US dollars seized from him were forfeited to the US government after he had pleaded guilty to bulk cash smuggling.

At the time of his sentencing, Lall also faced charges both in New Jersey and in New York for alleged money laundering and drug trafficking.

While he was defending the charges in New York during the year he was incarcerated, the cases in New Jersey had not progressed. However, in August of this year, the prosecution in New Jersey filed a new indictment, this time charging Lall with four crimes.

He is now facing a conspiracy to launder money, conspiracy to structure funds, conspiracy to import cocaine and conspiracy to distribute cocaine, all allegedly committed between April, 2011 and November, 2014.

Following the filing of the new indictment, which also included a new forfeiture application, the charges in New York were discontinued since the prosecution acknowledged that they were similar to the ones he now faces in New Jersey.

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