Court

Sentencing delayed for conman

The Supreme Court delayed sentencing of a career conman yesterday after he claimed his victims thought they had made investments in the drug trade.

Jonathan Ratteray, 32, from Smith’s, was scheduled to be sentenced for multiple counts of dishonesty.

The sentencing was adjourned after Elizabeth Christopher, who appeared for Ratteray, said he had actually told the complainants he was the middle man in a drugs operation and that their investments were being used for that purpose.

Puisne Judge Charles-Etta Simmons adjourned the case until tomorrow morning for a “Newton Hearing”, where the court will hear arguments to determine how or if the claims would affect the sentence. The move came after Ms Christopher said that Ratteray regretted the betrayal of trust with people he considered friends, but that the complainants did not believe they were making a legal investment.

She said: “Mr Ratteray is not someone who approaches them in a suit and tie. The portrait that is being painted, both of him and the complainants, is unfair.

“Bermudians are not so unsophisticated that someone can just come up, say they have an investment, and they hand over $26,000.”

But Ms Burgess said the complainants maintained they believed they had invested in a legitimate enterprise.

Ratteray had earlier admitted he conned more than $26,000 from one couple between November 2017 and February 2018 by claiming an underwriter would invest it in Bitcoin.

He also pleaded guilty to a charge that he convinced another man to invest $6,650 between November 2018 and January this year into a plan to profit from foreign currency exchange.

Larissa Burgess, for the Crown, had asked a sentence of between two and three years along with an order to repay his victims.

She told the court that in the first case Ratteray had sent Brian Sheppard, a former co-worker, a video on WhatsApp that showed him with a large amount of cash.

The Crown said Ratteray claimed he had made $70,000 through an investment with an underwriter who had invested in Bitcoin for a guaranteed return.

Mr Sheppard and his wife, after speaking with the man said to be the underwriter on WhatsApp, agreed to invest $3,500.

The couple continued to invest in the scheme and made several payments in US and Bermuda currency totalling $26,310 before they went to police.

Ms Burgess said Ratteray approached Che Powell in November 2018 about a plan to profit from foreign currency.

She added he convinced Mr Powell to split a $3,000 investment to earn $12,000 to $16,000.

But instead of receiving a return on his investment, he was asked for more money to cover fees and reclaim his money.

The court heard that Mr Powell had invested a total of $6,650 into the scheme.

Ms Burgess told the court that Ratteray collected money from Mr Powell even after he was charged with the offence against Mr Sheppard, which highlighted his lack of remorse.

She also highlighted Ratteray’s history of previous offences and said that he had “found and repeated a successful business model”.

Ratteray was sentenced to 18 months behind bars in 2013 after he admitted ten counts of dishonestly obtaining property.

He told his victims he would invest the money and guaranteed quick returns, but used the cash to pay his bills and defrauded two victims of $17,000 over a two-month period.

Ms Burgess added that as part of his sentence he was ordered to pay back $13,940 — but still owed more than $10,000.

Ratteray earlier spent a year in jail for a fraud that involved former cricketer Barry DeCouto between September 2005 and January 2006.

He persuaded Mr DeCouto to donate $74,600 to a friend who needed help to pay his mother’s medical bills.

Ratteray used the money to buy a car, a motorcycle, a plasma-screen television and to fund overseas shopping trips.

Ms Burgess said Ratteray promised his victims “milk and honey” but left them with a bitter taste in their mouth and empty bank accounts.

Mrs Justice Simmons remanded Ratteray in custody.

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