OpenTrial - equity's guardian.
THE CASE OF GERALD BAKER
FEATURES & CONSEQUENCES
Suspicious ultra vires conduct of the district attorney (public prosecutor) for Gaspar Hernandez, Jose Alfredo Martinez, Fabricated Charges, Numerous Threats and Intimidation, Wrongful Detention, Physical Abuse, Business Jeopardised and Property Fraud Countenanced.
BRIEF SUMMARY - PROPERTY FRAUD AND THE DEAD CHICKENS RACKET
In May, 2010, Gerald Baker, a US citizen, accepted a security project management assignment with Barrick Gold Corp. in the Dominican Republic. Soon after he decides to purchase a home and business and settle there with his partner, Ms. Leslie Hawkins. He buys a ten-acre horse ranch in the countryside close to the small village of Veragua in Sabaneta de Yasica, on the north coast of the island, near Cabarete. Rancho Montana, which Baker and Hawkins rename as Wise Mountain Retreat, offers trail riding through the lush rain forests, rivers, mountains, canyons and pueblos. Because Baker wishes to contribute to the local community and, to tackle the frequent power outages and poor quality drinking water, he plans, designs and buys components for affordable solar power, rainwater recovery and innovative solar disinfection systems that offer self-sufficiency. However, rather than the relatively quiet life he had hoped for, assisted by Jose Alfredo Martinez, the district attorney (public prosecutor) for Gaspar Hernandez, Baker is preyed on by Michel Francois Godin Forget, the seller of the property he has bought, and Orlando Moore Mejias, a neighbour who owns some chickens. Various officials try to cash in on the dispute. Disharmony and conflict escalate over time and, after an armed raid of his ranch by more than twenty officers in military gear, Baker is dispossessed, illegally arrested without charge and spends ten months in prison. During his incarceration pressure is applied from various quarters on Hawkins to compensate Orlando Moore Mejias for his dead chickens. Charges are eventually brought against both Baker and Hawkins for allegedly violating articles 66, 67, 70 and 71, of law 631-16, which relates to the control and regulation of weapons. On the grounds that his fundamental rights were seriously violated he is acquitted.
CRIMINAL AND PENAL SYSTEM - BACKGROUND
The constitution defines the system of government of the Dominican Republic as being civilian, republican, democratic and representative. Suppositionally the powers of the government are divided into three independent branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. Judicial power is exercised by the Supreme Court of Justice as well as by other courts created by the constitution or by enacted laws. The highest judicial body is the Supreme Court of Justice, followed by the Courts of Appeal, the Land Courts, the Courts of First Instance, and the Justices of the Peace.
The criminal and penal system of the Dominican Republic relies on the fundamental principle that: the preference to mediate or otherwise reach an agreement between two parties before a case is processed, so that going to trial is a last resort. When presented with a claim, the district attorney may allow the parties involved to reach their own agreement regarding their case. If this is not possible, the case will either be forwarded to an investigating judge (juzgado de instrucción) or dismissed, if there is insufficient evidence to support the claim. For further information see: Dominican Republic: Rights of the Accused
The Public Ministry is the agency of the Executive Branch responsible for directing the investigation of criminal acts, assisting with the prosecution of criminal actions and protecting the interests of the State. It is functionally independent of the Courts by means of Ley No. 78-03 que crea el Estatuto del Ministerio Publico (The Public Ministry Statute). The Public Ministry is composed of the following officials: The Attorney General of the Republic which represents the State before the Supreme Court of Justice; General Prosecutors before the Courts of Appeal; Public Prosecutors who appear before the Courts of First Instance; and Public Attorneys who appear before the ordinary Justice of the Peace Courts. The Attorneys for the State (Abogado del Estado) who are part of the Public Prosecutors Office, appear before the Higher Courts of Land and its attachments.
The people of the Dominican Republic are tired of the widespread impunity for the corrupt and powerful in their country, which is why they have protested in the streets. It is considered that a broad and comprehensive reform of the judiciary needs to take place to guarantee its autonomy and quality, with a focus on eliminating political interference in the decisions taken by judges.
The criminal justice system is reported to be struggling with poor administration and corruption. Although the government took some steps to prosecute and punish police and security officers who committed abuses, there was a widespread perception of impunity afforded to senior officers and other government officials. The law does provide criminal penalties for official corruption; however, the government does not implement the law effectively, and officials who engaged in corrupt practices are not prosecuted, although some are removed from office and others are submitted to the Department for Prosecution of Corruption for investigation. On the whole, though, judges have not been effective in punishing those responsible for corruption.
LAW RELEVANT TO THIS MATTER
One of the most significant of the Executive Orders made during the United States’ military intervention (1916 - 1924) was Executive Order No. 511, enacted July 1, 1920, on Real Property by which the Torrens system of land registration was adopted as the land title system of the Dominican Republic. It was modeled after the Philippines and Australian Torrens system, and remains in effect today. However, an important reform took place in 2005 when Ley No. 108-05 de Registro Immobiliario (Registry of Real Property), was enacted, derogating Law No. 1542 of 1947. The 2005 reform entailed a profound restructuring of institutions and procedures for adjudicating and registering property rights in the Dominican Republic within the adopted titling system, the Torrens System.
Arrest and Trials - Summary
A person may be initially held without official charges for up to 48 hours;
He/she may be detained for up to three months, or longer for complex crimes, while the investigation is ongoing;
Even if released after the initial 48 hours, the accused may be required to remain in the Dominican Republic for several months or longer until the case is concluded (detention can last three months, or up to 12 months for complex crimes); and,
The trial process can be lengthy and may extend for up to several years in particularly complex cases.
Since foreigners visiting the Dominican Republic usually do not have permanent residence or ties in the Dominican Republic, foreigners accused of a crime may be kept under preventative detention throughout the investigation and trial process to prevent their departure from the country.
For further information see: Dominican Republic: Rights of the Accused
Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Although the law prohibits torture, beating, and physical abuse of detainees and prisoners, members of the security forces, primarily police, continued such practices. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) reported that the police continued to be involved in incidents that resulted in maiming or severely injuring unarmed civilians. The law provides penalties for torture and physical abuse, including sentences from 10 to 15 years in prison. Civilian prosecutors sometimes filed charges against police and military officials alleging torture, physical abuse, and related crimes.
Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
Article 44 of the Constitution establishes a person’s right to privacy, and the government’s obligation to obtain a search warrant from a judge before entering a person’s private premises. The law prohibits arbitrary entry into a private residence, except when police are in hot pursuit of a suspect or when a suspect is caught in the act of committing a crime. All other entries into a private residence require an arrest warrant or search warrant issued by a judge. In practice, however, the police do conduct illegal searches and seizures, including raids without warrants on private residences.
Control and Regulation of Weapons
Articles 66, 67, 70 and 71, of law 631-16. The government issues two types of gun permits; one allows one to own a gun, keep it in one's house, and carry it in one's car; the other allows one to carry a gun on one's person in public. Both permits can be acquired by any Dominican citizen or legal resident. Each permit costs around $200 US and requires a police background check, drug test and psychological exam before issuance.
8th August, 2011 - The attorney Miguel Alberto Surun Hernandez of Santo Domingo was retained to form the corporate entity of Atocha Group S.R.L. for Gerald Baker. Baker also opened a corporate account at Banco Popular in Cabarete, after being introduced to branch manager David Polanco by Michel Francois Godin Forget (hereinafter referred to as Godin), a Canadian national who lived in the Dominican Republic for 25 years. This was in addition to his account at Scotia Bank.
Later that August - Saskia Brockman of Juan Perdomo Century 21 showed Baker various properties, including Rancho Montana in Veragua owned by Godin. Ms. Leslie Hawkins, Baker’s partner, a Canadian national, arrives in the Dominican Republic.
September – October 2011 – Hawkins’ friends, Kim (a ranch operator) and Rene, travel from Canada and stay at the ranch to check out the property and examine the horses. They recognized the ranch’s potential, but considered refurbishing and reequipping was necessary. Unbeknown to them at the time, the horses they saw did not belong to the ranch, but had been temporarily brought in to replace the less healthy ones. Neighbours to the property advise Baker to be cautious and carefully check the legality of any property’s title. They also tell him of the noise, drunkenness and speeding motorcycles at a nearby property.
Godin states that from January to October, 2011, Rancho Montana brought in an income of 1,110,000 pesos (about $22,500 USD) from tour operators alone.
5th April, 2012 - A deposit of $5,000 USD is paid to Juan Perdomo Century 21 with an offer to purchase Rancho Montana. However, Mr Godin does not agree to the real estate agency’s 10% commission rate which the seller must pay and asks for the purchase to be done privately.
17th April, 2012 – Godin emails Saskia Brockman telling her the deal is off as both he and Hawkins have cancelled it. Juan Perdomo Century 21 returns the deposit.
23rd April, 2012 The respective companies of Baker and Godin, namely the Atocha Group SRL and Compania Nicogro SRL, enter into a "Contract for the Sale of Property with Privileges for the Seller Pending Payment".
May, 2012 – An initial amount of $5,000USD is given to Godin as an advance on the specific understanding to purchase ten new horses, and for the fields to be ploughed and planted with grass for the horses.
3rd June, 2012 – Godin offers to give Baker an original copy of the land title for his lawyer to keep in trust. It is understood that the seller remains the titleholder until the final payment for the property is made. Godin also confirms that, “by the end of next week the tractor will finish the plowing with the discs, so in the week of the 11th the seeding will start”. However, nothing had been done and Hawkins was told that because of the rains Godin could not buy the horses and the fields were far too wet to start ploughing.
Baker is told the 23rd April, contract of sale has been notarized by Dr. Ariosto Alexis Arias Arias, Abogado Notario Público del Distrito Nacional, Matricula No.1706, del Colegio Dominicano de Notarios, Inc.; but it later turns out it was not.
13th June, 2012 – Godin makes arrangements with Hawkins for her and Baker to take over the ranch. But he now writes that, “Things for the horses have been put on hold for awhile because we are in a big drought it hasn’t rained for 2 months, so grass growing is paralyzed.”
16th June, 2012 – the deposit cheque for the sum of $20,000.00 USD is purchased from Scotia Bank in Cabarete. Baker pays the $20,000 USD deposit to Godin.
July, 2012 – The purchase of the property for the sum of $270,000 USD: Parcela No. 315763627163, Distrito Catastral No.2, Ubicada en Gaspar Hernández, Provincia Espaillat, Matricula No. 1100012499, with the addition of Sesenta Mil Metros Cuadrados (36,651.76. M2), from Michel Francois Godin Forget (DOB 04/01/46) proceeds.
15th July, 2012 – date of the official business takeover from Godin’s Compania Nicogro SRL to Baker’s Atocha Group srl.
CONTRACT TO PURCHASE
3rd August, 2012 – the contract for the Atocha Group SRL to purchase Rancho Montana is signed and notarised by Public Notary Dr. Pedro Messon Mena after Rodolfo Angeles Rodriguez aka “Sandro” (DOB 11/22/81) and his family move off the property. Rather than risking a bank loan with fluctuating interest rates a five year plan payment is arranged with Godin. Payments are set to be made every three months with the next being on 15th October, 2012. A $20,000USD deposit is transferred to Godin’s account. the contract states that the definitive transfer of property rights to the buyer will be effected, once the final payment has been made, by a sale contract which is to be prepared. The 23rd April, 2012 "Contract for the Sale of Property with Privileges for the Seller Pending Payment" is declared void through being superseded.
23rd October, 2012 - David Polanco, the branch manager of Banco Popular in Cabarete, provides instructions for direct transfers to be made from the US to the account of Compania Nicogro SRL, (Michel Godin) in the Dominican Republic.
December, 2012 – Problems with the neighbours ensue: they trespass, their chickens invade and they poison Baker’s puppies, which they see as responsible for killing their escaped chickens.
28th January, 2013 - a cheque for the sum of $12,516.00 USD is purchased from Scotia Bank in Cabarete to cover the second mortgage payment.
February, 2013 – Baker and Hawkins now employ Godin’s former staff at the ranch and they learn that there were two previous purchasers of the ranch who paid deposits, but who were never granted title. Godin’s behavior is suspicious as he keeps in touch with his former employees, expresses concern about Baker’s planned demolition and reconstruction schedule, interferes with the running of the ranch and informs Eric Vladimir Franco de Pena, Baker’s attorney, that he has a “property value” issue.
25th February, 2013 – Godin sends Baker’s Atocha Group srl a proposed agenda for a meeting to discuss: 1. Vehicle ownership and transfer and insurance, 2. Rancho Montana public and civil liability insurance, 3. Land title and tax, 4. Income tax payment, 5. Demolition and reconstruction schedule, 6. Payment schedule.
March, 2013 – Godin asks for the title documents for Rancho Montana to be returned to him as he remains the legal owner until the final payment for the property is made and he wants to settle an outstanding tax liability and take out a loan (he visits the property with a banker in April). When Godin learns that the title deeds are in a safe in Miami he says, “Well I will just have to lie and tell them I lost it. It will only be $25,000 RDS”. He then fraudulently tells the Land Office that the title deeds have been lost and without mentioning the Contract to Purchase. Godin is then issued with replacement deeds.
15th April 2013 – The third mortgage instalment of $663,400.00 RDS is paid to Michel Godin.
2nd May, 2013 - An additional $21,000.00 USD deposited in Michel Godin’s bank account.
June, 2013 - Harassment of the new owners of Rancho Montana begin when two poorly compiled summonses arrive from Lic Jose Alfredo Marinez and his superior, Lic Genero Arvelo Polanco, in the prosecutor's office in Gaspar Hernandez.
July, 2013 - Baker purchases a Mossberg Maverick 12 gauge shotgun S/N MY26809R from Mr. Frank Quintana a businessman in Cabarete, at his place of business. Baker was shown a weapon licence, a sale receipt that was hand written, of which photocopies were made.
August, 2013 – Baker and Hawkins experience cash flow problems and Godin asks for a $4,080 USD penalty for late payment to be paid by 16th August, and that, on 19th August, an addendum to the original contract be sealed and signed at the Baker’s lawyer’s office. The original mortgage payment schedule is to be resumed in January, 2014. During August 151,192 RDS is paid to Godin.
September, 2013 – Harassment using the legal system escalates as papers suing Baker and Hawkins for $31,000 USD in relation to two missed payments are served. This is despite an agreement to postpone payments until January, 2014, and for Baker and Hawkins to pay a penalty. The first late payment penalty had been paid and the next payment was due in October. However, their company, the Atocha Group srl, and the ranch were becoming profitable despite recurring problems such as thefts by employees, shoddy workmanship, equipment breakage, and delayed and reduced payments from brokers, some of whom Baker dismissed.
25th September, 2013 – a further 15,000.00 RDS is paid to Michel Godin who is now claiming that the July, 2012, mortgage payment had not been paid.
'October, 2013 - 3rd October 5,479.50 RDS is paid to Michel Godin (second penalty payment), 17th October 140,000.00 RDS is paid to Michel Godin, 21st October 32,012.00 RDS is paid to Michel Godin.
30th October, 2013 – Godin emails Hawkins claiming the contract to purchase Rancho Montana has been breached.
14th November, 2013 – extortionate demands are made for services supposedly rendered.
31st December, 2013 - The day after Baker travels to the US for work, Hawkins is served a notice of lien for 700,000 RDS against the ranch in respect of the wages of an employee whom Godin had refused to pay.
INVASIONS OF HOME AND PROPERTY COMMENCE
3rd January, 2014 – while Baker was out of the Dominican Republic, the district attorney (public prosecutor) for Gaspar Hernandez, Jose Alfredo Martinez, along with staff from his office, several police officers, Godin and members of his family, and several unidentified people from the community, invade Rancho Montana and the home thereon without a warrant. A motorcycle and a van are taken, both of which were included in the sale of the property, but which Godin claimed had not yet been re-registered in Baker/Hawkins’ company name which meant he was still paying tax on them. Local villagers take the opportunity to steal what they can. Photographs and a video recording of this event were lodged with Sergio Serrano, Baker’s lawyer retained on 8th January (see below), but he later refuses to return them and the other copy provided to the police as evidence disappears.
8th January, 2014 - Eric Vladimir Franco de Pena, is dismissed as Baker’s attorney, and Dr. Sergio Juan Serrano Pimentel is appointed in his stead. Dr. Serrano files documents with the courts in Moca which state the intention to charge Mr Godin with title fraud, breach of contract, altering government documents, grand larceny and perjury. All mortgage payments to Godin are stopped pending resolution of these issues.
5th-12th January, 2014 - Matters escalate: Godin continues the harassing of Hawkins (who fears for her safety to such an extent she engages security personnel) and the couple's clients, sometimes using locals, the ranch's employees do very little, and Godin claims the property is his including the couple's personal possessions. Each incident is reported to the district attorney. Dr. Serrano obtains an order against Godin preventing him from moving back onto the ranch, Baker and Hawkins express their intention to seek punitive damages for the devastating financial loss and detrimental impact on the growth of their business caused by Godin's unlawful conduct, and question why the state does not prosecute him.
February, 2014 - tour brokers who send clients to the ranch inform that Godin intends to take back his tour permits as he now claims that he had only loaned the licence. The absence of a licence effectively shuts the ranch down, so, over the following year, Baker and Hawkins apply for their own tour operator licence.
30th May, 2014 - After the harassment a number of times of Hawkins and the ranch's clients, and threats of violence against Hawkin's brother, for which reports were filed with the district attorney, Godin emails Hawkins suggesting the matter be "settled out of court in a friendly way".
June, 2014 - Dr. Serrano meets with the district attorney in Moca in relation to filing criminal charges against Godin, who is present and visibly upset. Dr. Serrano is instructed to open both a civil case for breach of contract and a criminal case for title fraud, grand theft and criminal mischief. Dr. Serrano asks the attorney general to prosecute, but he does not do so as the authorities will not "put Mr. Godin in prison due to his advanced age”. Later Hawkins is summoned to the district attorney's office where she and Mr. Serrano meet with Genaro Arvelo Polanco who claims he knew nothing of the 3rd January, 2014, raid on the ranch.
July, 2014 - a local villager aggressively demands payment for his chickens which, he says, the ranch's dogs killed. When payment is refused the villager declares, “Now you will see what Dominicans are really like”. The next week Hawkins receives notice that she must attend as the attorney general's office in Gaspar Hernandez in relation to the alleged killing of nine chickens by her dogs. Because her name is not on the document her lawyer advises her not to attend.
August, 2014 - Hawkins is unable to attend a second meeting whereupon Jose Alfredo Martinez rather oddly declares he is going to issue an arrest warrant for her in what is a civil not a criminal matter. The locals are used as lookouts to watch for her and call the police to come and arrest her should she leave the property.
August/September, 2014 - Dr. Serrano's law firm attend at the prosecutors office in Moca for conciliation hearings.
18th August, 2016 - Without a warrant, subpoena, or ID, four police officers, Jose Alfredo Martinez, the attorney general from Gaspar Hernandez, and two locals demand entry to Rancho Montana. They use a rock to try a break the lock and when Baker intervenes he is threatened with arrest. A policeman jumps over the fence and threatens Hawkins and their dogs with logs. It transpires that the visit is being made so that Jose Alfredo Martinez can serve papers on Hawkins (her name and other details on the documents were incorrect) for failing to appear in court in relation to a false claim of her dogs killing chickens. Baker asks Dr. Serrano to file charges against the officials involved, with the intention of using "the legal system to defend [his] home, to make it painful for them to continue this fraudulent course of action".
23rd August, 2016 – Hawkins and Dr. Serrano go to meet Jose Alfredo Martinez and his superior Lic. Genaro Arvelo Polanco at their office to discuss how the ranch's dogs killed the (now thirteen) chickens in a location two kilometers away from the ranch by cleanly severing just their heads and all while the dogs were locked up. As Hawkins enters the building one of the guards advises her to pay 125,000 RDS or be put in jail. Inside the building the complainant, Orlando Moore Mejias, harasses Hawkins demanding payment and his lawyer, Domingo de la Cruz,threatens Hawkins with jail for thirteen years. On joining the meeting Lic. Genaro Arvelo Polanco suggests the payment of 60,000 RDS would be fair, but Hawkins' lawyer refuses this and asks for the matter to be resolved in court, whereupon Jose Alfredo Martinez threatens to arrest Hawkins.
September/October 2016 - Hawkins receives several messages indicating that if $20,000 RDS were paid to Domingo de la Cruz "the arrest warrant would go away”; but this was refused. An arrest warrant was then issued in respect of Hawkins. Alfredo Martinez went to the ranch several times to serve the warrant, but each time Hawkins was working away from the ranch. Alfredo Martinez only had a civil warrant which did not allow him to enter the property, so he offered rewards to locals to inform him when Hawkins left the property so that he could arrest her. Around this time a man to whom Baker was teaching self-defence techniques, brought him a 9mm FEG pistol [S/N 20085] for repair. It was caked in rust and would not function. The firing pin was removed and, along with two airsoft pistols, it was used in training exercises.
13th September, 2016 - Prosecutor Lic. Jose Alfredo Martinez and the National Police are given a warning by Sheriff Juan Rafael Perez Lopez: First: to abstain from entering the property of Ms. Leslie Hawkins, without a judicial order, and that should they not heed this warning they risk being made liable through disciplinary sanctions, Second: Leslie Hawkins will not acquiesce to such violations, and Third: the authorities must not lend their assistance for if they do they will be brought before the courts.
20th October, 2016 - Lic. Jose Anibal Carela Head Procurator Fiscal of Espaillat Judicial District, signs an eviction order in respect of an unspecified address, and which refers to civil decision number 00318 of 7th June, 2016, issued by the Civil Chamber and Commercial Court of first instance in the Espaillat Judicial District.
ARRESTED AND JAILED
Saturday, 29th October, 2016, at 9.40 a.m. - Directly contrary to the Right against Illegal Search and Seizure under Article 44 of the Constitution (which establishes a person’s right to privacy, and the government’s obligation to obtain a search warrant from a judge before entering a person’s private premises) Jose Alfredo Martinez and some twenty five heavily armed SWAT officers enter the ranch using only a civil warrant which they would not allow Hawkins to read or question. The doors of Baker's and Hawkins' home were kicked in, it was vandalised, Baker's phone was ripped from him as he photographed what was happening and tried to call his lawyer, and, when he demanded to see a criminal warrant and asked for a translator, he was attacked by several police officers. Baker was punched in the stomach, gun-butted in the chest and slammed to the ground such that his head hit concrete. His right arm was violently wrenched behind his back and handcuffed. During this assault Officer Gonzales had his knee jammed hard into Baker's neck until Baker shouted that he was experiencing severe neck pain. It later transpired that the intention was to intimidate Baker and Hawkins so that they would pay Orlando Moore Mejias, Alfredo Martinez's friend, the money he was demanding; but things got seriously out of hand, partly because Col F. Nin found Baker's security equipment too enticing.
Baker and Hawkins were then sat on the floor together as the armed force proceeded to take their computers, electronic gear, cameras, iPods, iPads, external HDDs, studio project equipment, a shotgun bought by Baker to defend his home, two airsoft (plastic) pistols and the non-functioning 9mm pistol used for training exercises, etc. Baker's equipment for his next security assignment in Haiti was also removed: GPS units, compass, binoculars, flashlights, Swiss tools, laptop computer, cell phones, water purification pump, travel cash, badge, ID etc. During the ransacking Hawkins suffered a seizure. She collapsed, began twitching on the ground as foam came out of her mouth. The invasion force did not attend to her in any way. Col F. Nin ordered the removal of Baker and Hawkins. Baker was dumped in the back of a pick-up truck, while Hawkins was carried to a SUV. No charge was ever mentioned, read out or any official document referred to. Suffering pain from concussion and a burnt buttock from being obliged to sit over the vehicle's exhaust, Baker was taken to Moca police station where he was held without a warrant, charges, or any explanation. A US embassy representative visited him, he was allowed to telephone his family, he was visited by a lawyer who spoke no English and later vanished for a while, and Baker was taken to hospital because of the infected wound on his buttock, dehydration and a contusion on his chest. Hawkins suffered a stroke while being transported (she was still being pressured to pay) and was given emergency treatment in a hospital before being left for eight hours watched by a male guard. She needed to be taken to another hospital, but the police were too drunk, so friends came and took her there, where she suffered three anaphylaxis episodes due to latex allergies. Hawkins was in the hospital for five days under the watchful eyes of male police officers to whom, at times, her naked body was exposed during treatment. After her son and her sister, who had flown from Canada, left, Hawkins was taken to Moca police station despite her serious medical affliction.
31st October, 2016 - Alfredo Martinez serves a new Acta de Allanamiento (search warrant) which does not bear Baker's correct name, and retrieves the civil warrant. Later an Acta de Allanamiento is produced dated 29th October, 2016, (Hawkins' name is incorrect on this document) with the time of issuance being 12.20 hours and claiming to have been authorised by a Magistrate/Judge of Judicial District of Espaillat; but bearing neither a judge's signature nor an official stamp. This document has to have been issued retrospectively because it lists in detail the items of property sequestered by the invasion force and at the time of issuance both Baker and Hawkins were in police custody elsewhere. The document states that the reason for the search and sequestration is to investigate suspected narcotics dealing and firearm possession; but Baker and Hawkins are unaware of this as they do not understand Spanish. The document is clearly an attempt to cover up the illegality of the invasion.
Early November, 2016 - an "Eviction Order" is produced. It is carefully crafted, even referencing international conventions; but it was signed at 12.25 p.m. on 29th October, 2016, which is after Baker and Hawkins were taken into police custody. However, it is highly irregular that an eviction order is issued, as opposed to a search or arrest warrant, to aid the investigation of alleged crimes. And, oddly, it does not mention the civil decision number 00318 of 7th June, 2016 issued by the Civil Chamber and Commercial Court of first instance in the Espaillat Judicial District. It is also unclear as to who issued the eviction order. It is signed by Daniel Emilio Medina Pimentel, but his capacity to do so is not mentioned. It appears to also have been issued by Captain Jimenez de los Santos, who is a police officer and, therefore, does not have the authority to issue such an order. Again, oddly, the official stamp on it is too faint to decipher.
3rd November, 2016 - Three male officers pick Hawkins up to take her to another hospital, but they head to Moca instead, which is an hour's journey away normally. However, the journey takes four hours as stops are made to tell complete strangers who Hawkins is and to ridicule her, making her fearful, again in an effort to compel her to pay Orlando Moore Mejias. At Moca Hawkins sees Baker who has returned from Santiago where he underwent a medical examination which was finally granted five days after his beating.
4th November, 2016 - Despite Article 40 of the Constitution specifying that a person may be arrested or detained by a judge’s written order, that at the time of arrest the arresting authority must identify him or herself, and inform the person of his or her rights, and that the person detained or arrested by the police authorities may only be held without charges for up to 48 hours, none of this was complied with. Six days after his arrest and still not having been informed as to why he was assaulted, arrested and detained, Baker is taken from Moca police station to court where José Aníbal Carela, the District Attorney for the Moca region, is in attendance; but Baker's translator (a law student who spoke some English) was unable to keep up with proceedings and no court-appointed translator is provided thereafter. At the hearing Baker is accused of murder, attempted murder, threatening behaviour, drug dealing, running a military training camp, etc., none of which Baker understood at the time. Baker's and Hawkins' defence, which alleges that Alfredo Martinez was trying to extort money from them for three months, is not accepted by the court. Baker was taken to retrieve his US and Jamaican passports from his belongings below stairs. He handed them to ACS representative, Ms. Paola Jimenez. The $575 USD they contained was appropriated by Baker's lawyer. Baker was taken back upstairs to the court. When asked if he wanted to make a declaration Baker did so, describing the beating he endured, the injuries suffered (he showed the scars to the judge), the theft he witnessed, the damage done to his home, and the total absence of any warrants or stated charges. When Baker states that he is employed as a security contractor, without any evidence or justification, a very agitated prosecutor Jose Alfredo Martinez shouts: “He said he is a member of the United Stated Secret Service!”. Baker's US passport is then seized and he is threatened with being jailed for four years. At the end of the hearing Baker is told that he is to be held for one month while the matter is investigated.
Mid-November, 2016 - While in severe pain Baker is transferred to Forteleza prison, whereupon 'Godin claims Baker and Hawkins were "just renting" and moves back to Rancho Montana, transfers the title into his lawyer’s name and appropriates all of Baker's and Hawkins' possessions, including several thousand dollars worth of tools and equipment,' but excluding a few personal possessions and items of clothing that friends retrieve for them.
7th December, 2016 – Baker is taken to court for a hearing; but, because of the absence of a translator, the hearing is postponed. He does not attend the next hearing because he is required to pay for transportation to and from the prison, but refuses to do so.
14th December, 2016 – Dr. Sergio Serrano’s legal services to Baker are terminated; but he withholds crucial files until he is paid what he feels he is entitled to. Fedias Santiago and Udo Jensen are appointed in Dr. Serrano's stead; but the former extracts some $10,000 USD for ineffectively defending Baker. Baker is not brought to court from Fortaleza Prison. This omission was apparently paid for and orchestrated by Fedias Santiago who wanted to give the judge an 'incentive'. However, the hearing is not presided over by the expected judge, and it is decided that Baker be detained for a further month.
27th December, 2016 - Because of delays in Fortaleza Prison, Baker arrives late for an appeal hearing in the provincial court of La Vega to request bail and the hearing is cancelled. In subsequent hearings Angelica Maria Castillo, who is based in Moca rather than Gaspar Hernandez, is now the prosecutor. She makes many wild statements unsupported by evidence, such as: “They were running a military training camp”, to which no objection was offered in Baker's defence.
3rd January, 2017 - Because Angelica Castillo is not ready to proceed with the hearing, the court in Moca orders Baker's detention for a further month.
23rd January, 2017 - In La Vega for a second appeal for bail, the prosecutor's file is missing and the judges order that the case be held over until 8th February, at which point, if the prosecutor's case is not ready, the case is to be dismissed.
March, 2017 - Formal charges are served for the crime of possession of an unregistered fire arm; but backdated to 3rd February. Baker is provided with no documents detailing the judges' decisions. Translation is poor throughout the proceedings.
27th May, 2017 - Baker's 2007 Yamaha R1 motorcycle is taken from where it was kept in storage at Condominio Cabarete East.
8th June, 2017 - Baker is called to the director’s office in the prison's administration building, but is questioned, without his lawyer present, by Capt. Jimenez who is a witness against him. For the first time Baker is asked through an interpreter: “When the officers entered your property did you have the shotgun in your hands?” He answers “No, I did not.” The shotgun remained in his room beside his bed where it was found by the armed invaders.
3rd August, 2017 - The prison doctor asks to examine Baker. This is the same doctor that allowed Baker's burn injury on his left buttock to go untreated and become re-infected. This time the doctor asked about Baker's health, what he was eating and briefly examined him. Baker mentioned his chronic headaches that became migraines because of the MSG in the food served, and the severe pain in his right shoulder, both of which were a consequence of the attack on his person and property.
25th August, 2017 - Baker was released from prison having been incarcerated for ten months, five without any formal charges. He had lost over 80lbs due to stress, inadequate nutrition, and unsanitary conditions such as no access to safe drinking water. He still suffers chronic pain from the injuries he received on 29th October.
29th September, 2017 – Baker travels to Moca with Leiko Hidaka (his volunteer translator) to sign the conditional release book and submit a list of questions to his Public Defender, Shesnel Alejandro Calcano Mena (829-865-4180) eleven months after Baker was arrested and jailed: 1. What the exact charges against him are (quoting the actual statutes), 2. What the evidence against him is, 3. Provide a copy of the statutes that relate to the searches of his home, indicating what is required for a legal search, 4. Provide a copy of the social worker/investigator’s report, 5. Provide a copy of the National Police Internal Affairs report ordered by the Prosecutor General, etc.
23rd March, 2018 – Hawkins, Baker's partner, departs the country.
11th April, 2018 – Baker attends a hearing in Moca courthouse. The session is merely postponed until 17th May.
17th May, 2018 - the hearing is again postponed.
14th June, 2018 - at the hearing the judges - Rosa Eladia Molina Abreu, Laura Patricia Sanchez Amparo, and Esther Nazareth Puntiel Jimenez - determine that the violation of Baker's property rights, his right to a translator, and his right to be presumed innocent until proven otherwise, along with serious violations of the procedural rules, make it impossible for him to be tried fairly. Baker is, therefore, declared not guilty and the prosecutors do not re-file the charges against Baker within the 20-day period provided for by law. For their upholding of the letter of the law and the fundamental rights of the accused, and for this expression of their integrity, these judges are to be heartily congratulated.
However, it takes until August 24th for the hearing transcript and verdict to be issued in writing. Despite enquiring numerous times, Baker is never advised of this and eventually collects a copy from the public defender’s office on October 12th. Meanwhile his bail money is not returned and, in violation of his right to free movement under Article 22 of the American Convention on Human Rights, he is not free to travel overseas, despite his dire need for medical attention. Furthermore, as a result of this arbitrary and unlawful action against him, Baker suffers huge losses in terms of property, equipment, lawyers fees and lost income. For this and more he is entitled to be fully compensated.
6th August, 2018 - Baker issues an indictment against law enforcement in the Moca district citing numerous instances of constitutional articles, provisions in the penal procedural code and articles in international conventions being violated by officials. The document can be read here: DOSSIER INDICTING LAW ENFORCEMENT IN MOCA DISTRICT
November, 2018 Sergio Serrano, Godin's lawyer (formerly Baker's lawyer, suggesting a serious conflict of interest), commences a court action to declare the Contract to Purchase void. It is significant that the action is not for breach of contract, and the reason for this is likely to be, now that Baker has been acquitted of all charges, to help justify dispossessing Baker of the ranch he bought and Godin's retaking of it entirely arbitrarily and without any court order. Thus the aim appears to be to cover up the illegality of the repossession.
December, 2018 Baker learns for the first time that he must acquire a certified copy of the 14th June judgement and inform the Public Ministry of it in order to be allowed to leave the country.
2019 All attempts to file formal complaints with the Dominican Republic's Anti-Corruption office in Santo Domingo and elsewhere are stymied with the lamest of excuses, such as: wrongly addressed, wrong date, etc. Such avenues appear purely cosmetic. Bureaucratic hurdles are created to frustrate attempts by Baker to have his bail money and the equipment stolen during the armed police raid returned.
BY FAILING TO COMPLY WITH THE COURT DECISION OF THE 14TH JUNE, THE OFFICIALS OF THE MOCA COURT DISTRICT ARE RENDERING THE LAW UTTERLY POWERLESS AND WITHOUT EFFECT. LAWLESSNESS RULES AND SUCH A SITUATION SHOULD CONCERN EVERY CITIZEN OF THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC.