American Avoids Turks And Caicos Prison: Know More Here

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The strict gun and ammunition laws in the Caribbean region led to the arrest of a Pennsylvania man in the Turks and Caicos Islands. He was convicted on Friday, although the minimum term of 12 years in jail was avoided.

Bryan Hagerich was sentenced to 52 weeks in prison; however, the term was deferred for 12 months, thus it was effectively never served. In addition, he was fined $6,700, which he will be able to pay before departing for the United States.

Hagerich’s case is one of many involving Americans detained for carrying ammunition in their luggage that has drawn national notice. As a result, federal authorities have issued new travel advisories, and a bipartisan congressional delegation met with Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) officials on Monday to discuss the situation.

In court, Hagerich gave his parents and wife hugs, and his attorney assured him he could afford the fine. The judge terminated the proceedings and cautioned Hagerich to exercise greater caution. Tears, hugs, and farewells outside ensued.

“Overwhelming, just joy,” Hagerich said outside of court.  “This is what we’ve been waiting for for the last 101 days and to experience this here and eight short hours to be home and hug my kids, it’s the best day.”

“God is so good,” said his wife, Ashley Hagerich.  

“All of our prayers have been answered,” Hagerich added.

However, there is still more to be done. While they wait for the resolution of their cases, several other Americans are still in custody.

“Well, obviously, you know we’ve set some precedent today.  My work, our work is not done until all of them get home,” said Hagerich.

 “ They’re our family, we love them and we can’t wait till they’re reunited with their families,” added Ashley.

Sharitta Grier, who was accused earlier this month, and Ryan Watson, who was detained in April, were in court and pleased with Hagerich’s decision.

“Thankful, thankful, so happy,” said Grier.

“It gives me hope, you know. All Glory to God, you know, that’s for sure,” Watson said. “He was looking after Bryan today,” said Watson. 

“I think that you know, it’s gonna be hard seeing my brother go home, but I also have so much comfort knowing that he’s getting to hug his kids tonight. And that’s, man, I want that for him almost as bad as I want it for me. So I’m just so grateful that he gets to.”

C. Washington Misick, the premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands, stated that the sentence is an example of justice being done.

“As we have said, The Firearms Act includes consideration for exceptional circumstances and today’s decision reflects our commitment to judicial independence along with upholding the law. Residents and visitors can be confident that the Turks and Caicos Islands are dedicated to safety and compassion as we protect the safety and rights of all,” he said in a statement.

He also said that islanders appreciate visitors: “I assure all travellers that the Turks and Caicos Islands prioritize hospitality, cultural exchange, and mutual respect. You will find our doors open and our hearts eager to share the warmth and beauty of our homeland. We highly value the trust and confidence travellers worldwide place in us when they choose the Turks and Caicos Islands as their destination.”

Misick has previously claimed that sentences shorter than the mandatory 12-year term were imposed in cases with extraordinary circumstances that did not involve Americans. According to the governor, Dileeni Daniel-Selvaratnam, the Turks and Caicos legal system does not specifically target Americans.

Hagerich’s suspended sentence, according to a statement released on Friday by Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., “is great news.”

“When we met with TCI officials a few days ago, they made clear that they wanted this situation resolved. They recognized that Bryan and the other detained Americans are not gunrunners – they are just people who made a mistake. I’m grateful that the judge recognized that the right thing to do was to send Bryan home. I’m also grateful to the U.S. State Department which has been a critical partner in bringing Bryan home,” he said in a statement, adding that he hoped the other Americans’ cases would be expedited soon.

A statement was also issued by Congressman Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA):

“While I am overjoyed to see Bryan Hagerich will be returning to Pennsylvania and reuniting with his wife and two children, this terrifying situation should have never happened to him, or the four other Americans still awaiting sentencing. As the Turks and Caicos government works to handle future cases, the British territory must ensure the safety and wellbeing of U.S. tourists. I won’t rest until Americans can once again set foot on their islands without putting their livelihoods at risk.

Hagerich, who was drafted by the Florida Marlins in his professional baseball career, resides in Somerset, Pennsylvania, with his spouse and two little children. After serving eight days in jail without the ability to post bail, he and the other three Americans—Tyler Wenrich, Ryan Watson, and Michael Lee Evans—both entered guilty pleas.

As of Thursday, Grier had not entered a plea.

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