Contested communication tower finally coming down

Workmen begin taking down the tower. Photo: Rafael Stumbo Tarasco

Workmen began dismantling a radio communication tower in Residencial La Jolla, Asuncion de Belén, Tuesday, thus ending a prolonged legal fight.

The tower is operated by Montagne De La Vallee Doree Ltda., represented by Andreas Roman Leimer Seiring, who fought to keep the tower up.

Neighbor Rafael Stumbo Tarasco was one of those who opposed the 30-meter (98-foot) tower.

Leimer, himself, is one of the last unconvicted associates in what the U.S. government says is a lottery scam that defrauded hundreds of U.S. citizens. The scam is one of a handful that have been operated out of Costa Rica over the past five years. There have been a number of arrests here and extraditions to the United States. However, Leimer has Costa Rican citizenship and cannot be extradited.

In its most recent ruling in late February, the Sala IV constitutional court ordered both Leimer and the Municipalidad de Belén to remove the tower. The legal fight has been going on for more than two years.

Leimer was in the news in October when Brian Ross of the ABC television network visited to videotape and interview him as a U.S. fugitive. U.S. Embassy officials have been working to try to get Leimer to show up in U.S. district court in North Carolina where the fraud case is being heard.

The U.S. Justice Department said that the individuals who pleaded guilty or were convicted in the case were part of a massive scheme that defrauded unsuspecting United States citizens, many over the age of 55, out of millions of dollars by deceiving them into believing that each had won a large monetary prize in a sweepstakes contest. Calls to victims were made from Costa Rica using voice over Internet protocol, which utilized computers to make telephone calls over the Internet, disguising the originating location of the calls, the department said. Victims were informed that the callers were purportedly from the Sweepstakes Security Commission and that to receive their prize, they were to wire to Costa Rica, thousands of dollars for a purported refundable insurance fee, it added.

Some of the scammers were sentenced to decades of prison and ordered to pay millions of dollars in fines and restitution.

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