Bar owner has to do jail time for operating illegal brothel

PHILIPSBURG–The Court of First Instance on Wednesday sentenced the 52-year-old owner of a bar on Windsor Road in Cay Bay to 36 months in prison, twelve of which were suspended, on two years’ probation. Juan Linzey was found guilty of several violations in operating an illegal brothel.

During the March 28 hearing, the Prosecutor’s Office had called for 36 months, six of which were to be suspended, on two years’ probation. The Prosecutor also requested forfeiture of seized cash amounts of NAf. 1,515, US $2,766 and 1,550 euros found inside a hidden compartment in the suspect’s bedroom, which request was granted.

The so-called “MUS” investigation started following an economic control of Juan Bar, during which it became evident that illegal prostitution was taking place in several containers on the premises.

The inspection was carried out following a violent incident of December 12, 2017, during which an undocumented sex worker at Juan Bar was battered and thrown out of a car. After the incident an in-depth investigation was launched, leading to the discovery of additional undocumented sex workers on December 19, 2017. A total of seven women were found to be working at the Bar. They originated from Colombia, Suriname, Curaçao and the Dominican Republic.

The Court found the bar owner guilty of inflicting severe bodily harm, human-smuggling, the operation of a brothel without the required permit from the Minister of Justice, and the illegal employment of sex workers.

The defendant, who was born in the Dominican Republic, claimed he did not force the women and only rented out rooms for a fee of $10 per day.

His attorney Safira Ibrahim called for her client’s full acquittal of the mistreatment charges. She claimed her client had not been operating a brothel but had only made a living by operating a deli restaurant and bar, while also holding licences for an Internet café, copy shop and administrative business.

Ibrahim said her client, who has been residing in St. Maarten since 1986, had Juan Bar in operation for eight years. She said the monies that were found in her client’s bedroom were his savings.

The lawyer stated Linzey had already been punished sufficiently, as his bar was plundered after his arrest. Five men were sentenced to perform community service for burglarising the establishment.

The Court found it proven that Linzey did not have a licence to operate a brothel and no employment permits for the women working there. Nevertheless, he ran a bar with a number of rooms for the women to work in against payment of a $10 fee to their employer.

The defendant had abused the vulnerability of eight women, who – usually out of financial need – had sought refuge in this type of non-government-controlled work, the Judge stated in the verdict. It was added that the hygienic conditions in the workplace were deemed “insufficient” and that the women were mistreated.

It was found proven that the defendant had his brothel in operation between June and December 2017, but considering the fact that his operation is internationally known among women who want to go into prostitution, there are indications that he had been involved in this illegal activity for longer, the Judge said in the verdict.

It was held against the defendant that he had not demonstrated any awareness of the wrongfulness of his actions. By contrast, it was also considered that he had no criminal record.

The Court imposed a somewhat milder sentence compared with the Prosecutor’s demand, as there was no proof that the defendant had submitted the women to humiliating treatment, with the exception of the December 2017 incident.

Source: The Daily Herald