Constitutional court declines to decide extradition appeal

The Sala IV constitutional court has sidestepped a unique argument raised to keep a U.S. citizen from being extradited on a fraud charge.

The court basically said that the arguments should be decided in a criminal court.

Lawyer Arcelio Hernández Mussio argued that his client was involved in telemarketing here and that he should face justice in Costa Rica, not the United States.

The client is Gregory Scott Garrett, also known as John White. He worked with USA Beverages Inc., Twin Peaks Gourmet Coffee, Inc., and a string of other companies that took money from U.S. citizens with the promise that they would be able to start a vending business. The scams were run out of Escazú,
Santa Ana and also in offices in the Sabana Office Center, although the scammers gave would-be customers the impression that the businesses were located in the United States, the U.S. Justice Department has said.

Earlier the lawyer said that what Garrett did here is not a crime under Costa Rican law. At best it is a civil violation, he said.

A summary of the Sala IV decision came from the Poder Judicial Friday. Under a new policy, the Poder Judicial did not name the persons involved in the case but Hernández confirmed that the decision involved Garrett.

“Basically the constitutional court did not want to give an opinion about my argument that the facts for which extradition was granted took place in Costa Rica, and therefore would not qualify for extradition according to article 2 of the extradition law, which requires that the acts for which extradition is requested take place outside of Costa Rica, with those exact words,” said the lawyer.

The U.S. Justice Department said that the long-running business opportunity frauds frequently preyed on elderly U.S. citizens. Eight other persons have been convicted in the United States because they worked in the telemarketing operation here. Hernández also argued in the past that Garrett was just an employee and not a principal of the scheme.

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