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Mr. Puello has been acting as a spokesman and legal adviser in the Dominican Republic for some of the detainees.
The head of the Salvadoran border police, Commissioner Jorge Callejas, said in a telephone interview that he was investigating accusations that a man with a Dominican passport that identified him as Jorge Anibal Torres Puello led a human trafficking ring that recruited Dominican women and under-age Nicaraguan girls by offering them jobs and then putting them to work as prostitutes in El Salvador.
Mr. Puello said he did not even have a passport. When Mr. Callejas was shown a photograph taken in Haiti of Mr. Puello, Mr. Callejas said he thought it showed the man he was seeking. He said he would try to arrest Mr. Puello on suspicion of luring women into prostitution and taking explicit photographs of them that were then posted on Internet sites. “It’s him, the same beard and face,” Mr. Callejas said in an interview on Thursday. “It has to be him.”
Judge Saint-Vil also said he thought that the photo of the trafficking suspect in a Salvadoran police file appeared to be the same man he had met in court. He said he intended to begin his own investigation into whether a trafficking suspect had been working with the Americans detained in Haiti.
“I was skeptical of him because he arrived with four bodyguards, and I have never seen that from a lawyer,” the judge said in an interview. “I plan to get to the bottom of this right away.”
There were questions about whether Mr. Puello, the adviser, who said the Central Valley Baptist Church in Idaho had hired him to represent the Americans, was licensed to practice law. Records at the College of Lawyers in the Dominican Republic listed no one with his name.
Mr. Puello said in the interview that he had been representing the Americans free of charge because he was a religious man who commiserated with their situation. “I’m president of the Sephardic Jewish community in the Dominican Republic,” he said. “I help people in this kind of situation. We’re not going to charge these people a dime.”
But other lawyers for the detainees said that the families had wired Mr. Puello $12,000 to pay for the Americans’ transportation out of Haiti if they were released, and that they had been told by Mr. Puello in a conference call late Tuesday that he needed an additional $36,000. Mr. Puello said that he had not participated in a conference call.
One lawyer for the families said that Mr. Puello had told him that he was licensed to practice law in Florida, but the lawyer said he had checked and found no such record. Mr. Puello said in the interview that he had never said he was licensed in Florida.
Mr. Puello said that he had been born in Yonkers, N.Y., and that his mother was Dominican. He said that his full name was Jorge Puello and that he had no other names. But then in a subsequent interview he said his name was Jorge Aaron Bentath Puello. He said he was born in October 1976, and not in October 1977, which the police report indicates is the birth date of the suspect in the Salvadoran case.
The report said the police had found documents connected to the Sephardic Jewish community in a house in San Salvador where the traffickers had held women.
Central Valley Baptist Church
Carla Thompson, Missions Coordinator 208‐407‐0269
Pastor Clint Henry
SANTO DOMINGO -- The man providing legal advice to American church workers charged with trying to take children out of Haiti did jail time in the United States for bank fraud years before emerging as the key suspect in a child prostitution ring in El Salvador, according records and interviews.
The mother and stepfather of Jorge Anibal Torres Puello told The Miami Herald in an extensive interview Saturday the fugitive wanted by Salvadoran police was their son, who has been advising the church volunteers in the unfolding legal drama.
``That's him,'' a teary Ana Puello said from her modest home in the outskirts of Santo Domingo. ``But those things they say about him, I doubt they're true . . . He told me, `Mami, I swear I didn't.' He would never hurt a child.''
Though his wife was convicted in the case, Torres Puello left the country -- wanted by Salvadoran police -- before ending up in Haiti.
Though sketchy, records show he was arrested in Miami in November 1999 for carrying false identification -- a felony -- but it's not clear whether he appeared in court. Once the bond was revoked, a warrant was issued.
His mother said her son has served federal prison time in the United States. Records show he was indicted for bank fraud by a federal grand jury in Philadelphia in 1998 and was released from prison in January 2002.
It's not clear whether he violated the terms of his release, but a warrant was issued ten months later and he is now wanted by the U.S. Marshals Service.
A spokeswoman for Universidad del Caribe in Santo Domingo, where his mother said her son had taken some legal courses, said Torres Puello had enrolled twice for classes, in 2000 and 2007, but had either withdrawn or never showed up to class.
On his voicemail, Torres Puello describes himself, in English, as an attorney-at-law.
While Torres Puello has been telling reporters during recent interviews that he is convert to Judaism and is president of the Sephardic Jewish Community in the Dominican Republic, several Jewish leaders say they have never heard of him.
``I don't know any Jews by that name,'' said Rabbi Shimon Pelman, head of the Chabad Lubavitch of the Dominican Republic.
``The only Jewish community in the Dominican Republic is the chabad community or the Centro Israelita community. I know everybody, and he doesn't exist.''
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) - The former legal adviser to a group of American missionaries jailed in Haiti on child kidnapping charges is now the focus of a manhunt in the Dominican Republic.
Dominican police and U.S. agents are seeking to detain Jorge Puello, who acknowledged Monday that he is wanted in El Salvador for alleged involvement in a human smuggling ring in the Central American country.
In a call from an unknown location, Puello told The Associated Press he was innocent of the accusations and that he and his Salvadoran wife had taken in young women from the Caribbean and Central America who had been abandoned by smugglers.
Salvadoran authorities want to prosecute Puello and his jailed wife for allegedly luring women and girls into prostitution with bogus offers of modeling jobs.
"I'm planning to go to El Salvador to tackle this problem," Puello said in a phone call arranged by his mother at his childhood home in the Dominican Republic. "I am not afraid to face the music."
Each new detail emerging about the past of the 32-year-old seems to add to the embarrassment and discomfort of the American missionaries that Puello volunteered to help, and who are still awaiting release from a Port-au-Prince jail.
Puello's statement that he had left the Dominican Republic was immediately cast in doubt by his mother, Ana Rita Puello, who refused to vouch for her son's whereabouts.
Informed that Puello said he had left the country, she looked surprised. Asked if she believed he fled, she shook her head and smiled.
"I don't want to answer," she said.
Originally posted by hotbakedtater
I am trying to follow the Haitian Ten case, apparently now the ten are being sent to prison. It made me wonder, and lo and behold, CBS wondered this as well,
Who IS Laura Silsby, so called leader of the Haitian Ten?
Who IS Laura Silsby? CBS article
I was surprised to find out she displayed quite unchristian attributes when it came to paying employees in a former business adventure.
From the article:
"Silsby has faced 14 legal complaints for unpaid wages in connection with her online shopping business, Personal Shopper. Employees won nine of those complaints and Silsby was ordered to pay $31,000 in wages plus another $4,000 in fines, according to the New York Times. "
"She's also had at least nine traffic citations in the last 12 years including four for failing to register or insure her car.
Last July, Silsby defaulted on the mortgage for her Meridian, Idaho. But she used that same address to register a nonprofit, the New Life Children’s Refuge - the orphanage operation linked to the current kidnapping charges."
So is she an altruist who wants to help kids, or a scheming deadbeat who is trying to use religious tax breaks to fund horrible financial choices?
Edwin Coq, the lawyer for the Haitian Ten, had this cryptic soundbyte show up a day or so ago, and now, I think it becomes clearer as to why he said such a thing.
Mr. Coq's statement
From the link:
"The lawyer for the group, Edwin Coq, said after a hearing on Thursday that 9 of his 10 clients were “completely innocent,” but that, apparently in a reference to Ms. Silsby, “If the judiciary were to keep one, it could be the leader of the group.”
From the beginning of this something has been weird or strange about this case! I am beginning to wonder if this Miss Silsby lady did not drag some innocent religious do gooders into a scheme to try and get out of her own financial messes.
If so shame on her. It makes me mad in general because already Haiti has too many orphans. This incident could really slow down the help of people from other countries in getting access to the ones who need it most, the kids!!
To be fair, from the cbs article, Laura's words of defense:
"In an exclusive jail cell interview with CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker, Silsby maintained the group's innocence.
"We have not in any way trafficked or kidnapped children. We came here out of love in our hearts for these children and have done our best to help them," Silsby said. "Once we were asked at the border to provide an additional piece of paperwork for the Haitian government, we willingly complied.
"I was willing to come back the very next morning at 6:00 a.m. to complete it and the children were going to remain there until I returned. But instead, they came with [an] armed guard and took us to the police station for interrogation and held us on charges … on false charges."
One thing Laura claims is that she was intending to build an orphanage in the Dominican republic for the Haiti orphans. When the story first broke, I remember hearing how the group wanted to bring 100 Haiti orphans back to the orphanage in Idaho (Kuna).
But according to Eric Evans, contractor, there is no orphanage in Idaho, at least coming from his company.
"Eric Evans wants to make one thing clear: He is not building a multi-million-dollar complex for runaway children on a 40-acre lot in Kuna for Laura Silsby as reported in the Wall Street Journal on Friday."
"Evans met Silsby, who has been charged with child abduction in Haiti, a couple of years ago when he sold her a house in Meridian. He has not worked with her on any other projects since then, Evans said."
Here is the Wall Street Journal article the poor guy was referring to:
"Ms. Silsby had equally grand ambitions closer to home, according to a local builder. The Idaho plan called for a "multi-million-dollar complex" for runaway children on a 40-acre lot in Kuna, Idaho, according to Eric Evans, owner of Eric Evans Construction in Meridian. Ms. Silsby told him it would have an indoor swimming pool, tennis courts and dormitories for the children, said Mr. Evans, adding that she had discussed having him build the project. Ms. Silsby's mother said she had never heard of any such plan."
Apparently some of the parents of these "kidnapped" children gave up their kids willingly, probably in hopes of a better life in America eventually. But it sounds like Laura Silsby may have been conning these parents as well. I just dont know!
Is Laura Silsby a con? Are nine of the ten innocent? Do you agree that no matter what, this particular case is going to make it harder for help to reach Haiti's orphans?
[edit on 6-2-2010 by hotbakedtater]
[edit on 6-2-2010 by hotbakedtater]
What do you mean unchristian attributes? Are you saying Christians are more moral and of a higher class then everyone?