JAMAICAN disc jockey ZJ Wah Wa plans to change his plea to guilty when he returns to Federal District Court in North Dakota on September 25.
ZJ Wah Wa, whose given name is Deon-ville O’Hara, is charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy. He pleaded “not guilty on all charges” when he first appeared in court in June.
“We entered into a written plea agreement with Mr O’Hara. It was filed September 10 in Bismarck (capital of North Dakota). This means he would waive his right to a jury trial and plead guilty,” Clare Hocchalter, federal prosecutor and Assistant United States Attorney, told the Jamaica Observer.
Hocchalter said four other persons connected with the case pleaded guilty at their court hearing this week. They are Americans Mikael Gillette, 24; Charles Bauder, 54; Shannon O’Connor, 30; and James Simpson, 72.
Wah Wa is one of 26 people (16 Jamaicans) arrested as part of the ring. He is detained at the Heart of America Dentention Centre in Rugby, North Dakota.
His federal-appointed attorney, Steve Mottinger, confirmed the development.
“He has expressed an interest to plead guilty and this has been filed,” was all Mottinger was willing to say.
Wah Wa, 24, was employed to radio station Zip 103 FM. He was arrested by American law enforcement during a visit to Florida in May. Allegations are he assisted in running a lottery scam in Jamaica that induced American citizens to send millions of dollars for ‘lottery winnings’. The disc jock is said to have acted as a courier to transport monies from the United States to Jamaica.
He was stopped by Jamaican customs officials at the Sangster International Airport with US$105,000 alleged to be proceeds of the scam. If convicted, ZJ Wah Wa faces a maximum 30-year imprisonment per count, a possible fine, mandatory restitution, and possible forfeiture of property.
At least 10 people over age 55 were allegedly duped. The Associated Press reported that one of the victims is an 83-year-old North Dakota woman who sent seven cheques amounting to US$158,000 after being promised US$19 million in winnings, and a South Dakota man who sent a US$14,000-cheque after being promised US$3.5 million and a Mercedes-Benz.