Embattled former Chief Executive Officer of EZ Jet, Guyanese Sonny Ramdeo has withdrawn his guilty plea to fraud charges and has changed his attorneys just one month ahead of a sentencing hearing.
A Florida Judge on Tuesday, granted Ramdeo’s request to get new counsel and withdraw his guilty plea. The US Government objected to his motion to withdraw but the Judge went along with Ramdeo’s request.
In his motion, the former airline boss who is accused of swindling millions of US dollars away from two insurance companies and putting them into his own use, told the court that he had lost all confidence in his attorneys who were from the US Law Firm of Funk, Szachacz & Diamond, LLC.
The defendant told the court that the attorneys appeared to have worked along with the Prosecution in the case and worked against him rather than defending him. He complained that the attorneys refused to go after specific evidence in the case and never returned his phone calls or emails.
Ramdeo complained to the Judge that “Defense counsel has on multiple occasions refused to meet with the defendant, answer emails, or return phone calls. For example, the defendant left an URGENT message with defense counsel’s office to come see him regarding the situation that occurred on October 1, 2013 regarding the plea deal, 30 days elapsed and counsel did not come see the defendant. Indeed messages were left on October 22 and October 23. Defense counsel’s only response is that he did not receive the messages.”
In response, the attorneys from the law firm told the court that the allegations by Ramdeo regarding the firm’s representation are baseless. “Despite his misplaced dissatisfaction with his representation, he does not actually request the Court remove this firm from the case and appoint other counsel. He in fact, requests we remain as counsel “rather …appoint [additional] counsel to supervise the work”, they argued.
The law firm said under the circumstances they could no longer represent Ramdeo and they removed themselves from the case.
Sonny Ramdeo has now been appointed a new state attorney and his case may now be forced to go to full trial if he maintains his latest change of plea in the matter.
The Guyanese born businessman who owned and operated the low-cost airline EZ Jet was arrested in December 2012 in New York in an FBI sting operation in connection with a multi million dollar fraud scheme. He was later extradited to Florida where he was charged in connection with a US$20 Million wire fraud.
According to the indictment, from as early as 2005, defendant Ramdeo was employed as the payroll supervisor at Promise Healthcare Inc. (Promise Health Care) and Success Healthcare Group (Success Healthcare), both of which owned and operated hospital facilities throughout the United States. As the payroll supervisor for these two companies (the companies), Ramdeo was responsible for overseeing the payment of bi-weekly wages and related payroll taxes for more than 3,500 employees.
To execute his scheme, Ramdeo allegedly incorporated PayServ Tax Inc. and thereafter represented to officers and employees of Promise Healthcare that PayServ Tax would handle the transfer of local, state, and federal payroll taxes to the proper agencies on behalf of Promise Healthcare and Success Healthcare. In fact, however, Ramdeo kept the money paid by Promise and Success Healthcare to PayServ for his personal use.
It is believed that Ramdeo used the money he embezzled from the health care providers to start-up his own airline, EZ Jet which operated flights between Georgetown and New York.
Just before Ramdeo’s arrest in 2012, the airline’s operations came crumbling down when both the United States and Guyanese aviation authorities revoked his operations license.
The Guyana and New York offices were forced to shut down their operations and it was at that time that it was revealed that Ramdeo ran the airline by himself. There was no board in existence and even his staff members were unaware of its full operations.