A trio has been charged in connection with a robbery on board a vessel anchored near Middle Caye last Thursday. On board was US retiree, John Picard who was awoken by two men who demanded money, ransacked his vessel and stole an assortment of items. Three persons have been arrested for handling stolen goods and additional charges of a more serious nature are expected to be lodged against Florita Pineda, her son, James Cortez, and a friend, Bradwick Lino. Cortez and Pineda were charged with handling stolen goods for three hard drives, property of Picard.
Lino, however, took the rap and pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods in respect of a pair of binoculars. He told Magistrate Carlon Mendoza that last Saturday he was heading to Cortezís home when he found the items in a bag which he took to Cortezís house. Lino explained that he took the rap because he did not want his friend and mother to be charged and that he had no knowledge that the items were stolen goods. Lino was sentenced to three months imprisonment while Pineda and her son were granted bail in the sum of one thousand five hundred dollars, but with strident conditions. Police are expected to levy additional charges since they are looking for finger prints to link Lino and Cortez to sea pirating on board Picardís vessel. The trio are due back in court on March.
In an update to this story, this afternoon, Lino and Cortez were jointly charged with aggravated burglary on the catamaran at Middle Long Caye. The two are accused of entering the vessel while armed and stealing a number of items from Picard and his wife. They were also charged with stealing from Christy Williams, a wedding ring and a tablet. Late this evening, Lino reappeared before Magistrate Mendoza and pleaded not guilty to the charge.