ZJ Wah Wa pleads guilty at hearing

JAMAICAN radio disc jock ZJ Wah Wa pleaded guilty to telemarketing fraud at a hearing in the Federal District Court in Bismarck, North Dakota, yesterday.

ZJ Wah Wa, given name Deon-ville O'Hara, is charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy.

"Mr O'Hara entered a guilty plea, pursuant to the terms of a written plea agreement," said Clare Hochhalter, federal prosecutor and Assistant United States Attorney.

"He was allowed to plead guilty to one count of telemarketing fraud and, in exchange, the United States agreed to dismiss the remaining counts of the third superseding indictment," he continued.

Trial is set for February 23, 2015.

Hochhalter said prior to trial, the judge requested a pre-sentencing report, which comprises a character and background check of O'Hara.

"They'll look for aggravating and mitigating circumstances," the federal prosecutor explained.

Wah Wa is detained at the Heart of America Detention Centre in Rugby, North Dakota.

He is one of 26 people (17 Jamaicans) named as part of the ring.

Four other Americans connected with the case pleaded guilty earlier this month. They are Mikael Gillette, 24; Charles Bauder, 54; Shannon O'Connor, 30; and James Simpson, 72.

Wah Wa was arrested by United States law enforcement during a visit to Florida in May. Allegations are he assisted in running a lottery scam in Jamaica that induced American citizens to send millions of dollars for lottery winnings. The disc jock is also said to have acted as a courier to transport monies from the United States to Jamaica.

He was stopped by Jamaican customs officials at the Sangster International Airport with US$105,000 alleged to be proceeds of the scam. If convicted, ZJ Wah Wa faces a maximum 30-year imprisonment per count, a possible fine, mandatory restitution, and possible forfeiture of property.

At least 10 people over age 55 were allegedly duped.

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