A 59-year-old man who fled the US earlier this month before he was to be sentenced for fraud offences, yesterday signed a waiver in the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court agreeing to be extradited.
Jerome Andrew St Ledger Austin is wanted in the US on an indictment for one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, one count to commit wire fraud, and one count of making false statements. Austin, a dual citizen of the US and Jamaica, pleaded guilty to the charges on April 20 but fled to Jamaica before his sentencing hearing in August.
It was reported that between 2016 and 2021, Austin worked for his co-defendant as part of a fraudulent investment scheme. The scheme, as described by investigators, involved the defendants posing as New York-based stockbrokers who called unsuspecting victims around the world, offering to sell them shares of American companies.
After these victims agreed to purchase the stocks, they wired the monies to accounts controlled by Austin and his co-defendant and other co-conspirators. The would-be investors never received the stocks they paid for, as the defendants and their co-conspirators stole the money. It was further reported that although defendants told victims they were located in New York, the scheme was in fact based in Panama and Thailand.
According to prosecutors, Austin lived and worked in Panama and had intentions to flee prosecution and sentencing by returning to Panama by travelling through Jamaica.
The extradition request was brought to the courts by Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Jeremy Taylor on behalf of the requesting state and was heard by Chief Parish Judge Chester Crooks.
Matthew Hyatt, the attorney-at-law who represented Austin, informed the court that his client intended to waive his rights to an extradition hearing. Under the watchful eyes of his lawyer and the police, Austin signed the committal warrant in court.