By Sadef Ali Kully
A Guyanese man who may have absconded to his native land was sentenced in absentia to nine years in prison on burglary charges after he and an accomplice fled during the course of jury selection for their trial in Queens Supreme Court, according to the Queens District Attorney office.
Chetram Karan, 25, and Vishwa Nabi, 27, both from Jamaica, fled from the United States to Guyana, the Queens DA said, during the selection of a jury for their trial. As a result, the court conducted a so-called Parker hearing and concluded that they had deliberately and intentionally failed to return to court, thereby forfeiting their right to be present at their trial.
Karan, who is believed to have run away to Guyana, was sentenced April 29 in absentia to nine years in prison. Nabi, who was returned to the jurisdiction by his bail bondsman last month, was sentenced April 2 to 11 years in prison.
In February 2013, Karan and Nabi each posted $10,000 bail shortly after their arrests on burglary charges. Nabi’s bail was increased to $15,000 after he failed to show up at court on April 9, 2013. He was held in jail in lieu of bail until July 2014, when he posted bail.
“The defendants were believed to be serial burglars who targeted homes throughout Queens and Nassau Counties, terrorized homeowners by their unlawful intrusions and stole their valued possessions,” Queens DA Richard Brown said.
Last month, both defendants were convicted in absentia of burglary, conspiracy, criminal possession of stolen property and possession of burglar’s tools, following a jury trial before Queens Supreme Court Justice Leslie Leach.
According to trial testimony, the vehicle that the defendants were using, a 2006 BMW, had been implicated in prior burglaries that occurred in Queens. As a result, surveillance was conducted on the vehicle.
According to court records, in February 2013, NYPD’s Burglary Larceny Apprehension Surveillance Team observed Karan driving the BMW, with Nabi in the vehicle, in New Hyde Park. When the BMW stopped in a New Hyde Park neighborhood, Nabi got out of the vehicle. As the vehicle drove off, Nabi was seen walking to a darkened private residence. While police watched, Nabi disappeared for a moment and a short time later a light went on in a second-floor room of the residence. A few moments later, Nabi was seen walking down the driveway from the house to a corner where the BMW pulled up and Nabi entered the vehicle. While Nabi was being observed at the residence, other police officers simultaneously saw Karan acting as a lookout and conducting counter-surveillance by driving slowly up and down the residential street in the immediate area, according to court records.
The criminal complaint filed by the DA alleged that after the BMW drove back into Queens, police stopped the vehicle and recovered a crowbar on the front passenger floor, jewelry on the center console and a black-and-white zebra-print case on the front passenger seat, as well as jewelry on the back seat and under the back seat cushion, multiple pairs of gloves and other miscellaneous items. In returning to the crime scene, police saw a side window open and noted that the inside of the residence had been ransacked. The residence’s owner identified the black-and-white case as belonging to a family member and said the case had been in the residence when he left earlier in the day, according to the criminal complaint.
Reach Reporter Sadef Ali Kully by e-mail at skull