Bermuda Vacation Story
Peter Sagos Bermuda Vacation Story
KIDNAPPED IN PARADISE: SUN, SAND AND LARCENY IN BERMUDA
By Peter Sagos
Like many Canadians, Peter Sagos sought refuge in the warm climes of Bermuda, a lonely island out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, hundreds of miles from the North Carolina coast. Its sub-tropical climate, sandy beaches and picturesque seaside towns have long made it a favourite getaway for American and Canadian snowbirds, as well celebrities and high-rollers. A former successful day trader and investor, Peter Sagos visited Bermuda for the first time in August 2009 for some rest and relaxation. He also went to shield assets of about $32,000 from the Canadian taxman that he had accumulated from his prosperous day-trading practice.
“I went down to open up a bank account and to trade stocks offshore, this was also for future tax gains,” Mr. Sagos says. Little did Peter Sagos know that once he stepped foot on the tropical paradise, his life would become a living nightmare. He was accused of importing 1500 lbs of marijuana and 250 kilograms of cocaine, around a total street value of 250 million US, Mr.Sagos learned about these values while incarcerated. The Bermuda Police Service was trying to link his case with three other foreign nationals who were arrested on conspiracy charges, Peter Sagos spent 10 ½ months in a Bermuda jail not knowing whether he would ever again see family and friends.
The drawn-out criminal case against Mr. Sagos failed to break his spirit however, and he reiterated throughout his lengthy ordeal of his innocence of all charges levied against him by the Bermuda Police Service. Mr. Sagos hired a number of Bermuda lawyers for his defense and even contracted Michael Edelson, a criminal lawyers from Ottawa in the hopes he would be released from the Westgate Correctional Facility. Mr. Sagos said the charges levied against him were trumped up and all were fabricated, Bermuda police failed to produce any direct evidence linking him to the co-accused in the drug-smuggling case. Now, more than six years after his illegal arrest, Peter Sagos is still haunted by the Bermuda ordeal, his reputation sullied by the Bermuda Police Service fake investigation that forced him to plead to a lesser charge so that he could get untangled from the island’s flighty criminal justice system. Mr. Sagos has been a free man since August 23, 2010.
“I thought I had two heart attacks while I was in jail,” remembers Peter Sagos, 39, about his lengthy stay at the Westgate Correctional Facility. “Between October and December (2009) I woke up twice in a pool of sweat. My heart was going a thousand miles a minute and I was out of breath. After that I said to myself, either I’m going to have to chill out or I’m going to die here.”
Bermuda is generally known as a tax haven for corporations and big-time financial players. Peter Sagos says he was familiar with Bermuda’s reputation as a playground for the rich and famous, and while he certainly wasn’t in the jet-set league he wanted to capitalize on what the island offered savvy investors and power brokers. Peter Sagos says he went to Bermuda to relax, open a bank account and do off-shore trading. But instead he got more than what he bargained for and it nearly cost him his life.
“I had planned to stay about two weeks, but I extended my trip for another three weeks so I was there for about 41 days before I was illegally arrested,” says Mr. Sagos. He said he arrived on the island with about $32,000 in U.S., and Bermudian currency. The funds were not declared to Bermudian customs officials, he says. Mr. Sagos took a liking to the island almost immediately.
“You have to understand that Bermudians are a very relaxed and calm people. I enjoyed myself intensely when I was there,” says Mr. Sagos.
Mr. Sagos says things began to get creepy after he was INITIALLY QUESTIONED by police.
“They stopped me, searched me and let me go… All this happened in a public area on the side of the road, I was in a vehicle with a person that I met on the Island, we were going to see a new home being constructed, in that neighbourhood. I went back to my hotel and I was just hanging out in my room when I heard a clicking noise behind the front door. I rushed to see who it was and then the guy informed me that he was the security at the hotel. I told him to leave, but he didn’t. Another security guard came afterwards and so did the director of the hotel. They had a key and came into my room without my authorization.”
Mr. Sagos was told by the hotel officials that came into his room, that it was a direct order from Bermuda Police Service following his initial questioning from on the street. The security guard says “They told me to not let anyone inside this room” Mr. Sagos was already in his hotel room. The security at the Fairmont Southampton were retired Bermuda Police officers. Not all, but some. The security at the Fairmont do not respect their CUSTOMER’S rights. I would warn you to think twice BEFORE GOING THERE.
“When I was first questioned by Police I didn’t have to give them my hotel information but I did, I had nothing to hide.” I still have nothing to hide. Bermuda Police Service showed up at his hotel room after hotel security had illegally entered his room, says Mr. Sagos. Police ruffled through all of his personal belongings, and while he says Police showed him a search warrant he suspects it was a phoney warrant. Mr. Sagos says Police were in the hunt to find some incriminating evidence in his hotel room.
“They took my money and all of my belongings and then took me down to the Somerset Police Station. I asked them why they were taking me to the police station and they didn’t tell me right away, but they handcuffed me and put me in jail. My Miranda Warning was not given by the Police! In Bermuda, the Police have 72 hours before they must lay a criminal charge against a suspect or they have to let them go. From that moment on I was kidnapped by the Bermuda Police Service. So, in the 70th hour they grab me and dragged me to court, and then I appeared in front of a judge I was charged with conspiracy to import marijuana. I don’t know where these charges came from… Mr. Sagos emphatically denies he smuggled drugs into Bermuda.
“I didn’t bring drugs with me. These were trumped up charges; Police said the drugs came from Cuba. I was accused of being on this boat that had left Cuba for Bermuda and that it had drugs on board. Police were trying to make a link between me and this boat.”
Police named the drug case “Operation Havana.”
In addition to Peter Sagos, Bermuda Police charged three other people in October 2009, including Andrew Blatchley, 58, of Charleston, South Carolina, Jeannie Harden, 58, also from Charleston, and Egide Plourde, 68, of Quebec. Blatchley and Harden were charged with attempting to import millions of dollars of cannabis along with money laundering the proceeds from drug trafficking. Plourde was also only charged with conspiring to import cannabis. According to police, Blatchley, Harden and Plourde were on Blatchley’s boat called “Bomba Shack“ which they claimed had arrived from Cuba and had docked in Bermuda for a few days. Plourde had chartered the boat which Police seized when it was about 14 miles off the coast of Bermuda. Mr. Sagos says he never boarded Blatchley’s boat, although Police vigorously tried to make the link between me and this other man/case (Blatchley). The legal term is called Nexus.
“I never met these people and I told them that. I was never on this boat but I did see the boat at a local restaurant where I went one day. I met the captain of the boat and he told me he charters the boat throughout the Caribbean. I went to look at it, it was a big boat, about 42 feet long I think. The captain offered to take me to the islands. I thanked him and got his phone number and then I left. I never saw him again until I got to court.”
Andrew Blatchley also goes by his middle name Steven.
In Blatchley’s Police Interrogation he did not mention or speak about Peter Sagos. Blatchley’s interview can only be used against the person who made it.
Mr. Sagos says he never met Harden and Plourde before and only spent about 10 minutes with Blatchley at the restaurant talking to him about his boat. He couldn’t understand why police were trying to link him and the Blatchley case even though Mr. Sagos had just a one-time casual conversation with Blatchley at a restaurant.
What followed next, says Mr. Sagos, was a true kangaroo court (29 appearances in all) in which he rifled through three Bermuda lawyers trying to get legal representation, and had to hire Canadian lawyers to monitor the situation while languishing in jail on trumped up charges and manufactured evidence.
“There was no evidence against me, but I couldn’t find any (proper) legal representation on the island. I went from lawyer to lawyer hoping that one of them would say to the judge due to lack of evidence we would like to make a “no case submission”. Even during one of Mr. Sagos court appearances and mentions he stood up in court and said these words, “Judge Khamisi Tokunbo I would like to place a no case submission due to a lack of evidence, ‘he told me to shut up, you are not a lawyer here and I do not recognize you, then they took me back to their prison.'”
Mr. Sagos appeared in court on October 9, 2009 in Hamilton, Bermuda where he was first paired with his new lawyer, Kenville Savoury. Savoury, a former police officer for 30 years, was appointed as Sagos’ lawyer, Mr. Sagos did not know that he was a cop for all those years.
“I knew nothing about this lawyer, he was not recommended to me, and I didn’t have a list of lawyers to pick from, they just appointed him to my case”. The first thing Savoury said to me was “how ya doing, you can tell me anything and everything”. I knew from that moment on something more was happening here. Mr. Sagos says Ken Savoury didn’t do anything for him, he didn’t even take any notes during the police interrogation, and just sat in the interrogation room listening, whats there to review? During the police interrogation, Mr. Sagos says the police tried over and over to make him admit to these offenses, but the charges were baseless… The lawyer would not accept my paper trail of where my money came from. He says three police officers were present at the interrogation and he was not allowed to speak to his lawyer in private for any advice. There was no lawyer there, Savoury was a police officer pretending to be a defense lawyer.
Mr. Sagos said he was later formally charged with one count of conspiracy of importing marijuana of about 1,500 pounds, which had an estimated street value of about $34 million. Prosecutors originally wanted to sentence Mr. Sagos to 35 years for his alleged involvement to import drugs into Bermuda. After being charged, he was sent to the Westgate Correctional Facility.
“I was assigned to a cell that measured about ten feet by six feet. The prison had everyone from murderers, rapists to child molesters, and the rest were thieves, majority of them were heroin addicts,” says Mr. Sagos, adding he spent about 22 hours every day locked down in his cell. On his second court appearance on October 20, Mr. Sagos promptly fired Ken Savoury on the spot in court.
“I had seen Savoury walk out of the Police station and talking to the lead detective on the case. So, when Kenville Savoury came over to talk to me at my second court appearance I fired him on the spot. Some of the inmates had told me that he was working with Police officials. I couldn’t trust him. Besides, he didn’t do anything for me.”
On November 3, 2009 Peter Sagos hired a new lawyer, Shade Subair, who was with the law firm of Mussenden Subair in Hamilton, Bermuda. Shade Subair was in the courthouse with another client and I hired her on the spot. She took on the case without knowing anything about it other than the fact I was being charged with conspiracy.
“She was waiting for disclosure from the Crown but they had nothing to give her. The Crown never had any evidence and Shade Subair was helping them keep me quiet. I kept contacting her trying to find out what was going on with my case but she never returned my calls. She even yelled at officials from the Canadian Consulate and my family. Shade Subair told the Consulate to stay out of it because it wasn’t any of their business since my case was being heard on Bermudian soil.
“As well as firing Shade Subair, Mr. Sagos says she also gave him wrong advice that prolonged his stay in a Bermuda jail. Mr. Sagos says Shade Subair erred (on purpose) in recommending that his case undergo a “short-form hybrid procedure” which essentially is a test of the evidence before the case goes to court, but we just finished a long-form procedure and I was found innocent due to no evidence. A long form procedure is the testing of every piece of evidence, it’s more detailed then this hybrid short form PI (procedural investigation). Why did Shade Subair not enter a no case submission due to the lack of evidence… She was helping the Bermuda Police Service from being sued and embarrassed.
“I believe she did that to allow the Crown to gather any evidence against me,” says Mr. Sagos. “There was no evidence against me at that point, or for that matter any point, there is ZERO evidence! I told Shade Subair that the Police screwed up and I was planning to sue them for $85 million.”
“Marc Daniels, a Bermuda Lawyer, was in court during this Long Form Procedure and he was shaking his head at Mr. Sagos, I didn’t understand until it was too late, what he was trying to communicate to me.” Months later Marc and I had a chance to speak once when I was in the courthouse jail waiting for yet another mention. “Marc Daniels informed me that he was sworn to secrecy not to mention what he witnessed in court that day. He is yet more proof of this miscarriage of justice.
Peter Sagos says Harden and Plourde were released in December 2009 due to a lack of evidence. He says he never met or spoke to Harden and only saw her in court once on Dec. 9. Shortly after his release, Plourde died from cancer. Peter Sagos says Plourde was kept in jail even though his lawyer knew he was ill and dying, also there was never any evidence against him.
“They kept Plourde in jail so they could manipulate the situation further, it was cruel and inhumane. Plourde had said at the beginning that he had cancer but he was not examined by doctors. They didn’t want to spend any money on him. But as soon as he passed away I had all the medical attention that I wanted. They didn’t want me to die in jail,” says Peter Sagos.
His third lawyer on the case, Elizabeth Christopher came on the recommendation of Michael Edelson and other inmates at Westgate.
“Christopher showed up on the morning of January 11, 2010 in court and said she was my new lawyer,” says Mr. Sagos. “It is slim pickings in trying to find a good criminal lawyer down there. There are lots of lawyers in Bermuda, but they all do corporate law. There are only a few criminal lawyers and there are many cases of conflict of interest in Bermuda. Everyone there is in the system, everyone is related in one way or another.
Mr. Sagos states, “I did not know what to think of her. I had people who were in remand tell me that she was good. But there was a conflict of interest because her brother was a big-time Police Officer in Bermuda, and I only found that out months later”.
“Elizabeth Christopher only did one thing for me and that was to place a Submission on Preliminary Inquiry, which I didn’t know about, this stating the whole time I was incarcerated was illegal. Plourde was forced to sign a piece of paper that his lawyer created. This official Police statement that he signed contradicted everything he had told to them in a video statement the very next day. They were trying to hold me based on the information Plourde had given, but there was nothing to it, and at that point they realized how stupid they were and then they went ahead and laid two other charges against me, these two other charges were already placed on me and I fought them off in my police interview, Charges were Proceeds of Crime and Money Laundering. At this point DOUBLE JEOPARDY was created. Mr. Sagos says he had three meetings with Elizabeth Christopher. At the second meeting, two lawyers from Michael Edelson’s office in Ottawa were present to help with the case. Mr. Sagos had a trick up his sleeve and decided to bluff his way into getting a reaction from Elizabeth Christopher.
“I was pretending to be depressed and just buying my time in Bermuda, I was waiting to talk to my Canadian lawyers in person. So when I saw them I woke up out of this daze and instructed the Canadian lawyers on what I wanted them to do. Then Elizabeth Christopher said, “oh my God”…Her jaw dropped and she yelped, when I told the Canadian lawyers what I wanted done. We talked about the phoney search warrant, Plourde’s signed statement which contradicted his Video statement, the missing SAT phone, the fake THC (tetrahydrocannabinol is the main ingredient in cannabis) report on Bermuda Currency…. I also directed the Canadian lawyers to attack the credibility of the Crown’s key witness and the airport custom officer. This crown witness also works for the state.
“In the meeting with Elizabeth Christopher I also made a point of reminding the Canadian lawyers to make sure they go ahead with the $85 million lawsuit I was planning to launch against Bermuda, but really, I was just bluffing. I knew that Elizabeth Christopher was a spy for the Crown. I had some ammunition, but they didn’t know that, and my ammunition was no evidence against me and the fact that the Bermuda Police Service manufactured every piece of evidence and they refused to take me to court.”
Peter Sagos says Elizabeth Christopher high-tailed out of that meeting and when he saw her again the very next day, she returned and presented him with an offer that blew his mind and underlined the questionable procedures of Bermuda’s criminal judicial system.
“She shows up and says OK, we’ll give you 20 years instead of 35. I said no way, notice the “we”. She had spoken to the Crown and they were anxious to make a deal, after my Canadian lawyers left. So she came back for seven days in a row and each time offers me a reduced sentence. She went from 18 years to 14, 6, 5, 3, 18 months. Then it went down to time served.
He says he realized that the only way to get out of jail was to plead to a lesser charge, and Michael Edelson also advised him to plead to a lesser charge, saying “we’d figure out afterwards what to do” following his return to Canada.
“I knew if I didn’t plead to a lesser charge there was no way I was getting out of there, and there would be more postponements, more pressure and the time for more verbal assaults, and who knows what else… Say I brought the legal team from Canada…”too great of an expense” … Say Bermuda postpones the trail during the time they are on the clock, say for instance I get beaten or stabbed in jail, what then??? do you see the variables adding up? Pressure people Pressure. Where’s that manual on taking on a country and all it’s top corrupt minds?? I knew the disclosure was in Canada and could place my story in the newspapers, but Michael Edelson saw fit to withhold it from me, that says a lot here people.
So in the end we’re down to time served and out the door I went, but there were so many holes in their case….. I was released on August 23, 2010 and I had shoulder-length hair and I couldn’t wait to get back to a normal place. Canada! He says he flew back from Hamilton, Bermuda to Toronto after they returned his passport.
His saga didn’t end upon his return to Canada. The day following his return to Canada he visited the Ottawa law offices of Michael Edelson. “Michael was shocked that I showed up at his office. He didn’t know I had been released. My whole point in hiring Edelson was to get as much of the disclosure as possible outside of Bermuda. Edelson held back the information from me for 4 ½ years,” says Mr. Sagos.
Peter Sagos says he tried in vain to get the disclosure in his case from Edelson. Mr. Sagos says he was told by another lawyer in Bermuda while illegally incarcerated that unless his case was involved with terrorism or something sensitive to National Security he would not be entitled to get the disclosure, well that was not the issue here. Mr. Sagos eventually complained to The Law Society of Upper Canada, which is responsible for the self-regulation of lawyers and paralegals in Ontario.
“I complained to The Law Society of Upper Canada and I got my case (disclosure) in about 30 days. People might ask why I didn’t take Michael Edelson to The Law Society of Upper Canada sooner? I didn’t know. Mr. Sagos says. I never met Edelson before, and besides, my new life needed more of my attention.”
“I had to fight with everyone everywhere for my rights.” It’s hard fighting cowards and shadows, but I manged to keep them at bay. I knew this day would come and that is why I have documented everything for everyone to read and see. You can not kidnap innocent people and pretend you have a case. The land of make believe, Bermuda…
Mr. Sagos says Michael Edelson was competent in the case, but he feels that the Ottawa lawyer could have been more forthcoming in getting him the disclosure that he desperately wanted. Mr. Sagos feels that Michael Edelson was helping Bermuda cover up this case, and he was being paid by Bermuda for these services.
“I pestered Edelson for 4 ½ years to get the documents of my case. He only allowed me to look at the documents in his office, but I couldn’t take the documents with me, “says Mr. Sagos.
“Were they trying to suppress the information?” Mr. Sagos asks. He argued that his case was not an Ontario matter, it was a Bermuda matter and not bound by Ontario/Canadian jurisdictions. Mr. Sagos also questioned the advice Edelson gave him early on in his case, even though he eventually succumbed and took it. Bermuda and Canada are not the best of friends, they are hostile to each other… Bermuda criminal system is not trustworthy and their standards are one of convenience and not fact.
“The first day when Elizabeth Christopher came to Westgate for a plea out, Michael Edelson was waiting on the phone when I met her there, he told me to just plead and get out and that ‘we’ll figure it out afterwards.’ But I needed to negotiate this with my captors I didn’t want to plead guilty to anything! I said I couldn’t do that on principle. The guilty plea was going to be a blemish on my life, I didn’t think it was good advice, but I had No Options…Corruption is what Bermuda is! I have no respect or patience for these savages.
“I knew the Bermudian officials didn’t have any evidence against me, because I didn’t do anything.” Mr.Sagos says “his ordeal in a Bermuda jail was frightening and disturbing. No human rights for tourists in Bermuda!”
“During the time I was there I was harassed by the biggest gangsters and the smallest nobodies. I even had the prison guards trying to interfere with the case, not all of them… I call this Psychological Warfare. I was terrified every day, everything was fair game for an outsider.
There was one guy nicknamed China and the reason he was called that was because his eyes were slanted, and he was always high. He’d show up at my cell in the mornings with a pen wanting to stab me in the neck, he was always threatening me.” I had a lot of these guys doing things like that to me. Mr. Sagos says he had to be careful because other inmates were sent to his cell to record conversations in the hope that they would get him to confess to a crime.
“One inmate (Derek Spalding) in remand says to me, ‘well you did a good job by killing the old man when he went back to Canada, and you want to kill this guy’ speaking about Blatchley. If I said yes, they would get me on a conspiracy to commit murder charge.
“You do not want to catch a case.” So you have to be careful how you answer their questions, because they do not stop until you answer, no walking away. During this whole time I kept thinking I can’t believe this is going on,” says Peter Sagos, adding the inmates co-operated with police in the undercover scheme so that they would get their sentence reduced. They even brought in a undercover police officer to “record” me. These guys are a complete joke, I thought to myself, but that proved something to me.
Peter Sagos says he was confined to his small cell for about 22 hours of every day and only allowed out briefly to gather his meals and to move around the pod. He says he was permitted to watch TV and read newspapers, but when he asked for some current law books he received old judicial books that needed much revisions.
Life is returning to normal for Mr. Sagos, but he still needs for the truth to come out and for this great wrong to be addressed. “Too many elements are still too close!” At the same time, the Internet is carrying stories highlighting his arrest and imprisonment in Bermuda which certainly does not help him.
“I tell people not to believe what they read on the Internet,” says Mr. Sagos.
“It has made me less trusting and more suspicious of people’s motives. I see some people cringe when they see me and I haven’t done anything wrong, that hurts,” says Mr. Sagos, adding the initial publicity surrounding his kidnapping has damaged his reputation.
“But the important thing is that I got through the 10 ½ months that I was kidnapped although the entire experience was a gong-show, and a complete waste of time and resources. Mr. Sagos has now published some of the materials that were used by the Bermuda Police Service and it’s time for the world to know about what Bermuda really is all about. This is but a fraction of what happened to Peter Sagos while on vacation in Bermuda. This case isn’t about a multimillion dollar drug shipment. This case is about the multiple kidnappings, murder cover-up and now how the Canadian authorities have been violating a Canadian’s rights and freedoms for more then 8 years and still counting.
This story is far from over!!!