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Fox fined $5,000, placed on one year’s probation in US case

Island Luck co-founder and philanthropist Adrian Fox was fined $5,000 and sentenced to time served and one year of probation after pleading guilty to harboring alien conspiracy and negligent operation of vessel.

Fox yesterday described the outcome as a “second chance”.

“A second chance is always good for anybody, right?” he said in an interview with The Nassau Guardian.

“And the judge only fined me $5,000 and one year probation.”

In April 2010, a US grand jury indicted Fox for “aiding and abetting the bringing of persons whom he knew to be aliens into the United States at a place other than a designated port of entry”, US court documents show.

However, in 2021, the charge was reduced to “aiding and abetting the grossly negligent operation of a vessel”.

Judge Denise Cote, who presided over the matter, said, “Between 2005 to 2008, Mr. Fox aided and abetted others in the operation of a vessel in territorial waters of the United States of America. The operation was grossly negligent consequently endangering lives.”

When asked by Cote to describe what happened from 2005 to 2008 in his own words, Fox said he was “guilty of helping people on an overcrowded vessel”.

Fox said the vessel left Nassau for the United States and that he was unaware that the vessel was being operated in a negligent way. 

He said he became aware in 2008, and stopped aiding in the same year. 

Fox’s attorney, Alex Spiro, argued that Fox acknowledged that he did something wrong.

“He is in court to make amends and to move forward,” he said.

“Mr. Fox withdrew from this conspiracy voluntarily. The way he became involved was very important.

“Growing up, he was poor and abused. He then worked with his supervisor. He made a mistake. He listened to his supervisor to make money. He agreed to help. He ended up aiding his supervisor, getting them on boats.”

Spiro said Fox is revered in The Bahamas because of his charity.

“He is here to plead guilty to a misdemeanor,” Spiro said.

“His boss got no jail time. Others involved have had no criminal penalties. Thirteen years later he is a changed man. Aware of the consequences. He would like to address the court.” 

Cote concluded that “it was evident that Mr. Fox withdrew from the activity before being arrested by law enforcement; he has bettered the lives of many people; his voluntary withdrawal speaks volumes; he has no criminal history otherwise and there was no point of incarceration.”

Fox was sentenced in a New York district court on Friday after pleading guilty to the charges.

Fox’s case has been a controversial one, with questions raised in recent weeks over Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis’ support of Fox. 

Prior to his success in the last general election, in an August 10, 2021 letter to Judge Cote, Davis described Fox as a friend and “an exemplary citizen”.

In his letter, Davis made it clear that he was not speaking as leader of the opposition or leader of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) but that his “intervention was in a personal way”.

The Free National Movement (FNM) was highly critical of Davis’ character reference.

But Davis maintained that his decision was “only fitting” given Fox’s philanthropy, and said he would do it again if he had to. 

Fox said yesterday that he has regrets about his actions but has learned from the experience.

“You know, when you’re kind of young you make dumb decisions,” he said.

“And you regret the decisions that you made in life and you have to learn from them, you know.

“But like even our prisons, we have no reform. That’s why when everyone comes out they go back again. I’m a person that made some mistakes in my life like everyone does, but you’ve got to learn from your mistakes and move on and become a better person.”

Asked what he plans to do next, Fox said he is particularly interested in prison reform in The Bahamas.

“We have to look at our men,” he said.

“We’re losing our Bahamian men. They’re losing themselves and they need help, especially because most of them don’t have father figures in their homes. So, they now listen to whoever wants to tell them dumb things to do.

“So we have to try now to rehabilitate them and get them back on track.”

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Rachel Scott

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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