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Thursday, August 21 2014 @ 04:14 AM EDT

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Trial Decision Delayed for Man Accused of Girlfriend's Panama Death

Expat TalesBy Andie Adams and Vanessa Herrera - A federal judge has decided to hold off on an obstruction of justice trial for the man accused of killing his girlfriend in Panama.

Brian Brimager, 38, is the lead suspect in the death of Yvonne Baldelli, who went missing while the two were on vacation in Central America in 2011.

Baldelli’s remains were found in a zipped bag off the coast of Isla Carenero in Aug. 2013. A federal grand jury charged Brimager with obstructing justice and making false statements to law enforcement, and he was arrested by the FBI in the Vista area on June 26, 2013.

Prosecutors allege he underwent an elaborate scheme to cover up Baldelli’s death.

On Friday, the federal judge heard a defense motion to dismiss charges against Brimager. The judge did not throw out the charges, but he also did not set a trial date, calling the hearing a “dicey matter.”

While prosecutors were expecting a trial date, they accepted a 90-day motion.

Baldelli’s family said the delay will give officials in Panama more time to gather the evidence.

Brimager’s defense said there has to be a “clear nexus” in the case, and if it goes to a jury trial, they want wording on the charges changed.

James Faust Jr., Baldelli’s brother, told NBC 7 it was heart-wrenching to see the “emaciated” Brimager in court Friday, but the family is glad he has not been released from custody.

“The jumpsuit suits him very well though, and those shackles, those chains on his ankles are music to my ears," said Baldelli’s sister Michele Valenzuela.

According to the grand jury indictment, Brimager and Baldelli traveled to Bocas Del Toro, Panama, in Sept. 2011. They stayed in a hostel on Isla Carenero, an island off the coast accessible only by boat.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office accused Brimager of physically abusing Baldelli, and she was last seen with him at a Panamanian restaurant on Nov. 26, 2011.

Prosecutors allege that soon after that, Brimager killed Baldelli. Investigators said he then tried to cover up her death by sending emails to family and friends from her laptop, posing as Baldelli. The emails said she was traveling to Costa Rica with another man.

Brimager allegedly disposed of a bloody mattress from their Isla Carenero hostel by dumping it in the ocean, investigators said. According to the indictment, Brimager had done two internet searches on Baldelli’s laptop for instructions on getting blood stains out of a mattress.

Court documents also accuse Brimager of packing Baldelli’s belongings into ten large garbage bags and leaving them on the dock outside their hostel for disposal.

Brimager then used Baldelli’s ATM card in Costa Rica and San Jose to make it look like she was still alive, prosecutors said.

When investigators questioned the suspect about Baldelli’s disappearance, they said Brimager lied to them and claimed she took her laptop to travel. That same laptop was found in his possession in 2012, at which point he changed his story and said the device never went to Panama and he never sent emails from it.

Nearly two years after vanishing, Baldelli’s body was discovered on a small island off the Isla Carenero coastline. Forensic scientists used DNA analysis on the skull and bones to identify her.

Brimager now faces 13 charges in connection with Baldelli’s death. If convicted on all counts, he would have to serve a maximum sentence of 205 years in prison and a $2.5 million fine.

Baldelli’s family said if Brimager goes to trial and is convicted in the U.S., they hope he will then be extradited to Panama to face murder charges.

“Justice is most important for us, and justice will be done when he is incarcerated – like I said – for the rest of his life,” said Baldelli’s father James Faust.

Many of the family members have made it a priority to attend Brimager’s hearings en masse.

“He did everything he could, hoping that people would forget her and not investigate and try to cover his tracks. But it didn’t work and we’re all here and he’s in jail,” said Baldelli’s niece Lauren Beyer.

NBC 7 reached out to Brimager’s defense attorney, but so far, no response has been returned. (nbcsandiego.com)

Editor's Comment: My guess is the judge punted on the issue for 90 days because they know Panama is about to finalize their request for extradition, to have Brimager returned to Panama to face murder charges. And 50 years in a Panamanian prison is a longer and tougher stretch than 205 years in a US prison. If he gets extradited to Panama, then they can keep him in prison for a very long time. If he ever gets released then they can boot him back to the US, where he can die in prison there. If justice is to be served, then Brimager will face murder charges in Panama, where he killed Baldelli.

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Daniel Moreno Melendez Convicted in Murder of American Expat Denise Mullen Hiller - Sentenced To 25 Years in Prison

Expat Tales By Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com - Daniel Moreno Melendez was convicted of murder in the case of the American expatriate Denise Mullen Hiller, and sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Moreno Melendez killed Denise Mullen Hiller during the evening of Thursday, 18 February 2010 in her apartment in the Paitilla neighborhood of Panama City.

According to the autopsy Denise died as a result of severe head trauma caused by a blunt object.

During the trial Moreno Melendez admitted he met the victim at the hotel where he worked. He was a bartender at the "Champions" Sports Bar in the Marriott hotel in downtown Panama City. Moreno said he and Hiller struck up a friendship, but he denied having murdered Hiller. He maintained his innocence throughout the trial.

The Second Superior Tribunal convicted him of aggravated homicide, and sentenced him to 25 years in prison. Two of the three judges sitting on the tribunal voted for conviction, and there was a dissenting minority opinion.

Police detectives, forensics experts, and investigators working for the prosecutor of the Public Ministry were able to determine that Moreno Melendez surprised the victim and struck her in the skull from behind. She had no chance to defend herself, and he did not try to help her.

During the trial it came out that there were supposedly indications of a "condition of evident superiority" between the perpetrator and the victim.

Justice Luis Mario Carrasco wrote a dissenting opinion in this case, who said the prosecution was not able to prove the existence of premeditation.

He went on to say the prosecution was only able to prove that Daniel Moreno was in the company of the deceased in her apartment in the late afternoon, and at that time she was alive. He also said the accused lied to investigators throughout the investigation. (Critica)

Editor's Comment: This news article actually appeared in the La Critica newspaper in the middle of last year. There was no news article published anywhere in the Panamanian Spanish language press when the conviction was handed down, and I missed this one when it was published at the time. This evening I was going through the news and ran across an article about a different case and court trial. That prompted me to do a search, and I found this.

Justice moves very slowly in Panama, especially when the prosecutors are convinced they have the right guy behind bars. Moreno killed Denise Mullen Hiller on Thursday, 18 February 2010. Her body was discovered the next day, on Friday. Police detectives arrested Moreno was arrested just a few days later, on Monday evening, 22 February 2010 - thanks to information provided to me by Denise's "close family member" (who was in the United States at the time). I relayed the details for her to the DIJ, and they were able to quickly coordinate with the prosecutor, find Moreno's house in Arraiján, post a stake-out, and arrest him when he returned home from work later that evening. He has been in prison since that day.

This case represents the first time I was able to help the family members of a murder victim by providing the details and information they had to the Panamanian authorities, resulting in an arrest. Also, this is the first conviction for murder in any of the cases in which I've been involved. The serial killers William Dathan "Wild Bill" Holbert, his accomplice Laura Michelle Reese, and the Spaniard Javier Martin have yet to face trial. Brian Brimager is still facing extradition from the United States, to be returned to Panama for the murder of Yvonne Baldelli. So it took more than three years, but today I learned that one murderer will be spending 25 years in prison for having murdered an American in Panama.

And yeah, it's satisfying. It's nice to know this scumbag will spent 25 years in prison for what he did. Remember, he actually tried to blow Denise's apartment up in an attempt to destroy evidence. After he killed her, he dragged her body out into the kitchen area. He lit a bunch of candles in the apartment, opened up the gas on the stove in the kitchen, and fled. Unfortunately for him, the dry season winds were blowing strongly and the gas in the apartment was never able to build up to the point where it reached an explosive mixture. Investigators also found traces of Denise's blood in his car, on the floor mats, accelerator, and brake pedals. Yeah, he did it. Adios, asshole...

My sincere condolences go out to Denise's friends and family members. Over the years I've spoken to many of them, and exchanged email. Denise came to Panama to work on a contract related to the expansion of the Panama Canal, and shortly after arriving she ran into this monster. At least now maybe there will be a little closure, for what it's worth.

Related Articles:

Flash - American Expat Denise Hiller - Found Dead in Paitilla 19 Feb 2010

Update on the Murder of Denise Mullen Hiller 19 Feb 2010

Denise Mullen Hiller Investigation Continues 20 Feb 2010

Denise Mullen Hiller Found Dead in Panama Apartment 20 Feb 2010

Investigating the Death of Denise Mullen Hiller in Panama 20 Feb 2010

Suspect Arrested in Brutal Murder of American Denise Mullen Hiller in Panama 23 Feb 2010

Daniel Moreno Melendez Charged With Murder of Denise Mullen Hiller in Panama 26 Feb 2010

Blood Found in Denise Mullen Hiller Murder Suspect's Car 5 Mar 2010

An Update On The Denise Hiller Murder Trial - No Date Set 11 Aug 2011

Middletown native helps ID suspected killers in Panama 4 Feb 2012

Daniel Moreno - On Trial Yesterday For The Murder Of American Citizen Denise Hiller 2 Oct 2012

Manuel Moreno Promoted From Chief of DIJ to Vice Minister of Security 12 Oct 2012

No Decision Yet In Murder Trial of Daniel Moreno Melendez in Death of US Expat Denise Hiller 16 Jan 2013

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missing person (draft)

Expat Talescatalina romero (catalina pilar romero bozon) dob: jan 10, 1981 age: 33 today female height: 5' 1" weight: 110 lbs Passport: hair; black eyes: brown two tattoos: lower back, middle of her back. lower: big circle, colored in middle: butterfly type near bra strap location. languages: Just Spanish, very little English Colombian national. From: Barranquila, CO Born and raised there. Going To: Paitilla, Panama With a CENFOL Community of Evangelistic People, helping poor people. They are very secretive. Contacted a few of them, your perception. Missing since: Jan 12th 2014. Periodically she will use a calling card to call one of her sisters. She has two sisters and a brother. Only calls them on their birthdays, and she didn't say anything. Both of them know of this religion and this group. You could see the number on the caller ID. All in Colombia. Two in Barranquilla, the other is in Cartagena. What do you think happened? I don't know. I think she got over her year. She was probably going there to do something good. This group got ahold of her, and they cut her off from her friends and family. It's that sort of a brainwashing, sheparding sort of stuff. I think she's gotten a little over her head. She is always sort of a church goer. She was looking for something a little more - she got in too deep. She's very pretty. So she's an attraction to them. I don't trust any of them. Especially in South America and Central America. Nobody can call her. Her sister knows a guy and his wife down in Florida. The guy won't tell her sister where she is. Her sister won't say. She spoke to them. She was your fiance. Not any longer. Still engaged. Did a fiance visa. Thrpough the US. Gerard Horning. (610) 657-3667. Cell phone. jerryhorng1@verizon.net Pennsylvania. Has anyone filed a missing persons report. No. On 1 or 2 sites. Put the "missing person" on there. It's impossible. No fax machine.
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DA Rice Announces Sentencing of International Fugitive Who Spent a Dozen Years on the Run

Expat TalesMineola, NY - Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced the sentencing today of a man who was captured after an almost 12-year international and multi-agency manhunt. He was the driver in a 2001 hit-and-run incident that killed an 80-year-old woman in Westbury.

Sebastian Barba, 36, formerly of Hicksville, was sentenced by Nassau County Court Judge Angelo Delligatti to 12 years in prison. Barba pleaded guilty today to Assault in the 1st Degree (a B violent felony) and Leaving the Scene of an Incident Without Reporting (an E felony).

“This defendant showed callous disregard for life and law when he committed this horrific crime and then evaded prosecution for over a decade,” DA Rice said. “But justice caught up in the end with his being sentenced to as much time in prison as he spent evading responsibility for his elderly victim’s death.”

Barba was arrested in November 2012 after an almost 12-year international manhunt involving DA Rice’s office, the Nassau County Police Department, the Port Authority Police Department, the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Marshal’s Service, the government of Panama, and INTERPOL.

DA Rice said that at approximately 10:05 a.m. on Feb. 6, 2001, 80-year-old Jean Renison was crossing Post Avenue at the Maple Avenue intersection in Westbury when she was struck by a 1995 Cadillac being driven by Barba. The impact of the collision forced the victim onto the hood of the vehicle. Barba then applied the brakes, causing the victim, who was still alive and moving at the time, to fall to the ground in front of the vehicle.

Barba then slowly drove over the victim’s chest with the front tires and her head with the back tires while a witness screamed at him to stop. He then fled the scene without identifying himself or aiding the victim and then fled to Ecuador, where he has dual citizenship. A grand jury indicted him shortly thereafter and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

While Barba holds dual U.S. and Ecuadorian citizenship, extradition was impossible because the Ecuadorean constitution states that no Ecuadorean national can be extradited to another country.

During the years he eluded capture, police followed multiple leads to locate Barba and to bring him to justice. In May 2005, Barba was featured in an episode of America’s Most Wanted.

Barba was detained by local authorities in Panama when his connecting flight from the Dominican Republic to Ecuador was flagged due to an international arrest warrant issued by INTERPOL. He was escorted back to the U.S. on Nov. 9, 2012 by Panamanian officers and U.S. Marshalls.

DA Rice added special thanks to NCPD Det. Gary Ferrucci, who has worked the case from the beginning, as well as the following for their involvement in this investigation: U.S. Marshals – Senior Inspector, Office of South American Affairs, Mark Espinoza, Anthony B. Walker, Jose F. Espinal. Agents with the U.S. Department of State, Diplomatic Security Service. U.S. Embassy in Panama City – Juan Arturo Rawlins. Panama City Police – Officer Pablo Icaza. Servicio Nacional de Migracion in Panama – Eyda Man’a Garcia. NY/NJ Port Authority PD – Sgt. James Ryan

Assistant District Attorneys Brendan Ahern and Michael Bushwack of DA Rice’s Vehicular Crimes Bureau and Assistant District Attorney Jacqueline R‎osenblum of DA Rice’s Appeals Bureau prosecuted the case. Barba is represented by John Kase, Esq. and Jonathan Marks, Esq.

Editor's Comment: Yet another case. Anyone who is an international fugitive should know by now. Taking a flight that connects through Panama means your passport will be checked, you will be arrested, and returned to face justice. There have been like dozens of these sorts of cases - guys who get popped in Panama and flown back in chains. Glad to see this particular scumbag is in prison.

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American Tour Guide Operator Shot in Bocas del Toro

Expat TalesBy Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com - American citizen Adam Ledford, one of the owners of the Cacique Adventure Tour Company, was shot three times while walking up the public boat ramp in Bocas del Toro, at 3:30 am during the early morning hours of Thursday, 27 February 2014.

Adam is now in the Santo Tomas hospital, and he desperately needs help to pay for surgery to remove a bullet from his hip.

Adam was an innocent bystander in an attempted murder of a local drug dealer - quite literally in the wrong place at the wrong time.

He had just finished working at a bar on Isla Carenero and was returning home. He took a water taxi from Isla Carenero to Isla Colon, and was walking up the public ramp, located right next to the headquarters of the National Police. He was looking down at his cell phone as he was walking.

Suddenly he heard a noise. He looked up to see a "fat man" running at him with a look of abject terror in his eyes. This was the local drug dealer who had just recently - days before - stabbed another drug dealer in a bar. The "fat man" bounced off of Adam and went running. Adam could see a silhouette of another man who had a pistol in his hand, when he opened fire. All of the bullets that were being aimed at "fat man" hit Adam (except for one, which apparently went into the ocean). The target of the shooting was unharmed. Everyone scattered, as Adam lie bleeding.

That started a chain of events you won't believe, unless you've lived in Panama for a long time.

Adam was first taken to the health clinic on Isla Colon in Bocas del Toro. He laid there for four hours until the x-ray technician came in to work. Once they took an x-ray, they determined he needed to be transferred to the hospital in Changuinola.

Once in Changuinola, the nurses dropped him into a wheelchair, and then basically ignored him for 36 hours. Realizing nothing would be done for him there, he eventually discharged himself, returned via water taxi to Isla Colon, and then managed to get himself on a flight to Panama City. There are a lot more details here, but suffice it to say he did all of this after having been shot three times, with a bullet lodged in his hip and pressing against the nerve, making his lower leg useless.

Now that he's in the Santo Tomas hospital, the doctors there are saying they will be more than happy to operate on him, however he will need about $4,000 to pay for the medical supplies needed for the operation, and things like the metal plate that needs to be screwed into his shattered hip socket.

I spoke to Adam, and he is currently talking to a friend who has a PayPal account, who will be receiving donations on his behalf.

Editor's Comment: The earlier article about the shooting in Changuinola - that was a different guy, and this was a different shooting. Adam was actually at the hospital in Changuinola when the guy who died from that shooting was taken to the hospital. So see? I hate making assumptions. Anyway, I'll be starting a fundraising effort to help Adam pay for his surgery, once the details are in place.

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Panama logs murder charges in Dana Point woman's death

Expat TalesBY LINDSEY RUTA / STAFF WRITER - A Panamanian prosecutor has formally filed murder charges against ex-Marine Brian Brimager in the death of Yvonne Baldelli, according to English language website panama-guide.com, which covers the country.

The charges come nearly six months after the remains of the Dana Point woman were found in a green, military-style backpack on Isla Carenero. Panamanian authorities had previously mentioned Brimager as a person of interest in Baldelli's disappearance.

In June, Brimager was arrested in the U.S. on charges of obstruction of justice and making a false statement to a federal officer.

He is in federal custody in San Diego, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Two new charges of falsifying records have been added to his indictment.

The murder indictment alleges Brimager killed Baldelli in 2011 and then tried to cover it up by several means, including disposing of a bloody mattress, later posing as Baldelli in emails to her friends and family, and withdrawing money from her bank account in Costa Rica to make it appear she had gone to that country.

He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Baldelli disappeared in November 2011, two months after moving to Panama with Brimager, who was her boyfriend at the time. Brimager, 37, returned to the U.S. in December 2011 and married another woman later that month.

Panama is seeking to extradite Brimager to stand trial for the killing. The country has an international treaty with the U.S. that dates back to 1903.

The treaty does allow for extradition.

However, this would be the first time Panama has ever filed a request, panama-guide.com reported.

Contact the writer: 949-432-5686 or lruta@ocregister.com

Editor's Comment: Here's the funny way this went down. My sources told me the prosecutor had, in fact, filed murder charges against Brimager and was in the process of coordinating with the US embassy to file for his extradition, back to Panama. After I published the article, a reporter from the La Prensa newspaper contacted the prosecutor to ask about the charges. Here's the kicker - the prosecutor lied to the reporter, and that's what the reporter published - that charges had not yet been filed.

However the truth and fact remains that the prosecutor in Panama has, in fact, filed formal and official murder charges against Brimager for the death of Yvonne Baldelli.

I was able to get confirmation through other very reliable sources. I'm assuming the prosecutor might have been worried that if word got out too soon, somehow the extradition process might get screwed up (or whatever). Or maybe the US embassy told her to sit on it.

Before I got involved in this case the US Embassy in Panama explicitly told Baldelli's family members "whatever you do, don't call Don Winner from Panama Guide..." Probably because I tend to make them look very bad, especially during murder investigations. As soon as I started investigating the case (because the family decided to ignore their advice), loads of resources suddenly became available. Go figure ... But I take credit for nothing. Lots of people have worked many long hours on this case both in Panama and in the United States. I just hope maybe I was able to spur them on a little, in the beginning.

No matter. The story is right. Brimager has been charged with murder in Panama, and now the Panamanian authorities are working to have him returned to Panama to face justice. I'm personally convinced he's guilty, so I hope he will spend the rest of his life in a Panamanian hellhole of a prison. Just like William Dathan Holbert, Laura Michelle Reese, Javier Martin, and Daniel Moreno Melendez - others who have murdered Americans in Panama. A little, uncomfortable metal box. Just enough food to keep him alive. No air conditioning, hot and humid and tropical (the same conditions the Panamanian inmates endure, he's no better than them.) Prison is supposed to suck. I hope he reads this, and stays up at night thinking about the hole that's waiting for him...

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Canadian Expat Maeva Beauzile Critically Sick - Fundraising Effort

Expat TalesBy Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com - Maeva Beauzile is a Canadian citizen who is in critical condition. She's 21 years old. Maeva came to Panama from Canada to teach French. She fell ill two weeks ago. It started with a fever, and she was admitted to the Santo Tomas hospital. They thought it was dengue. Then they thought she had a stroke. Then they suspected endocarditis...

To put it bluntly, the Panamanian doctors were unable to properly diagnose and treat her illness, and her condition worsened. Eventually she was admitted to the ICU and her family realized they would have to medically evacuate her back to Canada, so she could receive proper medical care. If they didn't get her out of there, she would die.

Friends and family started a fundraising effort. So far more than $26,000 has been raised. A goal of $45,000 has been established.

The money will be used to pay for the cost of the medical evacuation (very expensive), and to help offset the costs being incurred by her family members who remain by her side.

Please click on this link and donate.

I did some quick vetting on this, and it appears to be real, genuine, and authentic. FYI there's a YouTube video of Maeva that's being used as part of this fundraising effort. It was shot before she got sick when she was working at a language school in Casco, but they don't tell you that anywhere. So you look at the video and wonder "what's wrong with her." Well, she's very sick and currently unconscious. She apparently has some sort of heart infection, and will require surgery.

Editor's Comment: Do what you can. Toss some Balboas into the can. Spread the word. Share the links. Do what you can to help, even if you don't have deep pockets. If you've got deep pockets, write a check. Thanks. I know my readers flat out rock, and you guys know I almost never ask you to help on stuff like this. Just once every three years or so...

Copyright 2013 Panama-Guide.com.

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Prosecutor Considering Charging Brimager

Expat TalesThe murder of the American woman Yvonne Lee Baldelli, who disappeared in November 2011 in Bocas del Toro, could be a case of either domestic violence or robbery, for the theft of her credit cards, so prosecutors are considering charging her boyfriend for the crime.

This was announced by the Superior Prosecutor of Bocas del Toro, Vielka Broce, who said these are the two main theories they are developing after the investigation they have conducted.

Broce said her office received legal assistance from the United States to confirm the link between Baldelli and her partner Brian Brimager.

The official explained they have also taken testimony from some of the neighbors who lived near where the couple were staying, who claim to have heard some disputes between them.

She said the evidence of theft was generated when Brimager used Baldelli's credit cards in Costa Rica, so therefore that is a possible motive they have not discarded.

Baldelli's body was found on August 21, 2013, almost nine months after her disappearance, by a group of fishermen in a secluded spot on Isla Carenero in Bocas del Toro, in a military-type bag. The remains of the victim were identified by a comparison with the parental DNA and samples taken from the remains. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: OK, so my source was a little premature. Last week when I saw an article in the US press saying Brimager had been charged in San Diego with two additional counts by US authorities, I reached out to one of my contacts who is close to the case. I was told the prosecutor had already charged Brimager with murder, and was working to coordinate the details related to his extradition.

Apparently, as a result of my earlier article saying Brimager had been charged with murder by the prosecutor, the Panamanian reporters contacted Broce to confirm. Her answer in this article basically says they're close, but they have not charged him yet.

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Panamanian Authorities Charge Brian Brimager With Murder

Expat Tales By Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com - Last week the Superior Prosecutor in Changuinola, Vielka Broce, filed former murder charges against the American Brian Brimager, for the death of his girlfriend Yvonne Baldelli, and they are now moving to extradite Brimager from the United States to Panama to face those charges.

A local worker found Baldelli's remains in August 2013 on Isla Carenero. She had been partially dismembered and stuffed into a green military style backpack, similar to one issued to Brimager, a former Marine.

Panamanian prosecutors have been coordinating closely with the Legal Attaché of the US Embassy in Panama for months, after the discovery of Baldelli's remains, in order to pursue Brimager's extradition from the San Diego area of California in the United States - where he remains in prison facing charges of obstruction of justice, giving false statements to a federal officer, and falsifying records - all related to his elaborate attempts to cover up his involvement in Baldelli's murder.

An International Treaty between the United States and Panama signed in 1903 allows for the extradition of US citizens to Panama to face justice, however this will apparently be the first time Panama has ever formally requested extradition.

Law enforcement and judicial authorities from both Panama and the United States are proceeding slowly and carefully, making sure to account for every required step and action, anticipating a legal challenge by Brimager's attorneys in the United States to attempt to prevent the extradition from taking place.

Panamanian authorities are currently coordinating through their Foreign Ministry to process the proper paperwork, in order to formally and officially present their request for Brimager's extradition to their counterparts in the United States.

It is anticipated the request will be presented in the coming days or weeks.

Editor's Comment: The public jail in Changuinola is paradoxically known to the local Panamanians as "California" - because that's the name of the little neighborhood where it's located, close to the border with Costa Rica on the Caribbean coast.

Back when the serial killers William Dathan Holbert and his accomplice Laura Michelle Reese were arrested for having murdered five people in Bocas del Toro, the Superior Prosecutor for the province was located in the city of David. That's why Holbert is being held in David, because the prosecutor there is still handling those cases.

Since then, however, the Panamanian authorities have created and staffed a new Office of the Superior Prosecutor in Changuinola, responsible for the province of Bocas del Toro. So, after Brimager lands in Panama in handcuffs, he will be transported straight to the "California" prison there. There, he can check out any time, but he will probably never leave...

One more thing - I'm breaking this story, and no one else has this yet. To any new outlets who would like to pick this up - go ahead and use whatever you want from this article (permission granted) as long as you give credit to this website, and cite the full URL - "www.panama-guide.com". Many thanks.

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New charges filed in Panama slaying case

Expat TalesBy Kristina Davis (SAN DIEGO) New obstruction charges have been filed against a Vista man accused of killing his girlfriend on a Panamanian island.

Brian Brimager, 37, pleaded not guilty to the new charges in San Diego federal court Friday.

The former Marine is accused of killing 42-year-old Yvonne Baldelli on Isla Carenero in 2011, then disposing of her body and embarking on an elaborate cover-up.

The couple had moved to the small Caribbean island from Orange County to start a new life, but the relationship turned rocky, according to court documents.

Baldelli’s remains were discovered in August in a swampy area of the island, in a zipped green military-style bag.

In June — before the remains had been found — Brimager was charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office with obstruction of justice and giving false statements to a federal officer. This week, two counts of falsifying records were added.

The indictment said Brimager hacked into Baldelli’s email and wrote messages to her friends and family to make it seem as though she was still alive. One email stated she was very happy and had gone to Costa Rica with another man.

Authorities said that after the slaying, Brimager returned to San Diego County, where he married the mother of his young daughter weeks later.

Brimager’s attorney, Brad Patton, has filed a motion to dismiss the charges, arguing the FBI investigation his client is accused of obstructing does not qualify as an “official proceeding” under the law.

Patton said in court that he plans to file an amended motion in light of the new charges. Those motions are expected to be argued in March.

Now that Baldelli’s remains have been found, Panama authorities are working to charge Brimager with murder and domestic violence, said Baldelli’s father, James Faust.

It’s his hope that Brimager will be found guilty of the obstruction charges in the U.S., then extradited to face more serious charges in Panama.

“What we’d like to see happen is for him to be brought to justice, for Yvonne’s sake,” Faust said after the hearing, which was attended by several friends and family members. (utsandiego.com)

Editor's Comment: See my next article about Brimager...

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Justin Bieber Hanging Out At Travis Pastrana's Nitro City in Panama After DUI Bust

Expat TalesThe Canadian artist Justin Bieber was spotted at the Nitro City hotel in Punta Chame today, Saturday, 25 January 2014.

The Canadian singer has selected Panama to relax after being arrested.

The young man was seen in the company of other young people and their bodyguards.

On Thursday 23 January Bieber was arrested in Miami for driving under the influence of alcohol and for illegally racing cars.

He was released after paying bail of $2,500. (TVN)

Editor's Comment: Well, at least he knows where to go. Nitro City rocks...

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Justin Bieber takes refuge in Panama after being imprisoned in Miami

Expat TalesAfter being detained, the Canadian singer Justin Bieber decided to relax a bit and chose Panama - the teen idol took refuge in a luxury resort located in Punta Chame, in the Republic of Panama.

Justin was seen by several people enjoying the waters of teh Pacific ocean in Panama, in the company of a girl and two young men.

The singer was at all times in the company of his bodyguards.

On Thursday, the Canadian made ​​headlines again when he was arrested in Miami for driving under the influence of alcohol. He was released after paying a $2,500 bond. (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: I would rather talk about how interesting are the bubbles produced by the sludge under an outhouse. I refuse. I will not succumb to the news media's fascination with this little shit. Hey, wait a minute. There's a chick in a bikini there. Better photos, please? Back in October 2013 there were stories about how Bieber supposedly had sex with a gaggle of Panamanian prostitutes. What a dumb-ass; everyone knows the Colombian prostitutes are a whole lot hotter...

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Date Set For Trial of Javier Martin For The Murder of American Expat Don North

Expat TalesBy Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com - The judge responsible for the trial of the Spaniard Javier Martin, for the murder of the American expat Don North, has established a date for the trial.

The hearing will be held on Wednesday, 16 April 2014, starting at 10:00 am.

Initially Javier Martin's lawyer had asked the justice system to "accumulate" or combine the two cases.

Javier Martin is accused of having killed both the American expat Don North, as well as the Frenchman Jean Pierre Bouhard, in early 2011.

Previously, defendants who have been accused of multiple homicides could try to get shorter sentences by having those cases heard during one single trial. In Spanish they use the word meaning "accumulate" when discussing these things, but what they really mean is to combine the two or more trials into one big trial.

However, recently Panamanian criminal law has changed. Defendants can no longer receive shorter sentences when two or more murder trials are combined. Therefore, Javier Martin's lawyer has desisted or dropped the request he filed previously, to have the two cases combined.

On 16 April 2014 Javier Martin will be tried only for the murder of the American Don North. So far the judge responsible for the case involving the murder of the Frenchman Jean Pierre Bouhard has not yet established a trial date.

As you might recall, Don North disappeared from his sailboat in the San Blas islands in January 2011. Shortly thereafter, the body of Jean Pierre Bouhard came floating to the surface of the ocean near Portobelo. Bouhard had been murdered, and his body had been tied to an anchor and thrown into the ocean.

Friends of Don North contacted me on Thursday, 10 February 2011, to let me know they thought something was wrong. They put me into contact with North's nephew, Ezra North. He immediately flew to Panama, and I helped him file an official complaint with the Panamanian authorities on Friday, 11 February 2011. The next day, on Saturday, we went with the DIJ and FBI agents to the area of Portobelo, to search for Javier Martin. Nothing happened on Sunday. Then on Monday, 14 February 2011 - Valentine's Day - I called an impromptu press conference outside of the offices of the DIJ and announced to the Panamanian media that we were looking for Javier Martin as a suspect serial killer, in the murders of Jean Pierre Bouhard and Don North. Martin's photo aired on the channel 2 TVN news broadcast at 12:00 noon that day.

Little did we know that a clerk in a hostel in the Darien was watching that broadcast. As she was watching the news, Javier Martin was standing right there beside her in the hallway (he could not see the television screen from where he was). He was hitting on her, and trying to talk her into coming up to his hotel room with her. She recognized him, and called the police. He was arrested that afternoon.

So, it was four days. From first hearing about the case on a Thursday, and getting the murderer in handcuffs on Monday afternoon. The case was later profiled on the CBS 48 Hours Mystery program "Dark Side of Paradise" which originally aired in February 2012.

There is a ton (almost literally) of evidence against Javier Martin. He did it, he's guilty. Now there's only the formality of the trial to go through. He will never set foot outside of a prison, for the rest of his life. He will die in La Joya, eventually.

I'm glad the slow moving Panamanian justice system is finally setting a trial date for Javier Martin. Now maybe this will help Don North's family members to put this behind them.

There are a ton of related articles. You can do searches on the website for "Don North" or "Javier Martin". Here's a list from Feb 2011;

10/02/11

11/02/11

13/02/11

14/02/11

15/02/11

17/02/11

18/02/11

19/02/11

20/02/11

21/02/11

23/02/11

25/02/11

26/02/11

27/02/11

28/02/11

Copyright 2013 Panama-Guide.com.

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O.C. man accused of stealing nearly $3 million arrested in Panama

Expat TalesBy Paloma Esquivel - A Newport Beach man who prosecutors say ran a Ponzi scheme that stole nearly $3 million from investors has been extradited from Panama to face trial in Orange County.

Thomas F. Tarbutton allegedly fled to Brazil in 2011 after charges were filed and a warrant was issued for his arrest, according to a statement by the Orange County district attorney’s office.

Tarbutton flew to Panama this month and was arrested by Panamanian authorities this week. He was returned to California on Tuesday.

According to prosecutors, starting in 2004, Tarbutton ran a real estate scheme in which investors were told their money would be used to provide loans to people buying properties. He then allegedly gave investors forged documents showing they held liens on properties and gave them fraudulent documents showing money from mortgage payments was being invested.

Tarbutton allegedly gave investors small interest payments to make them less inclined to investigate the scheme.

But when the real estate market collapsed, he stopped all payments, according to prosecutors.

Tarbutton, 54, is charged with 29 felonies including grand theft and forgery. He faces up to 30 years and eight months in state prison if convicted.

He is being held at Men’s Central Jail in Santa Ana and is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday. (latimes.com)

Editor's Comment: Sounds like yet another case of a guy who was wanted by the US, who was dumb enough to fly to Panama for a connecting flight or something. Sooner or later the crooks of the world will wake up to the fact that the Panamanian immigration officials are now (right now) scanning the passport of every single passenger who arrives at the Tocumen International Airport, and checking them against outstanding wants and warrants. If they are wanted by the US they are placed under arrest immediately. This guy "fled to Brazil" but then was arrested in Panama. There have been several (many) cases of criminals with outstanding warrants being arrested - even though they were just flying on Copa with a connecting flight to Europe or something. Panama - the 51st state. For all you crooks out there the route to Europe from Brazil goes through Bolivia (commies), then Venezuela (commies), then Cuba (old commies), then Aeroflot to somewhere cold...

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Where In The World Is Francisco Armani? Asia...

Expat TalesBy Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com - Remember that dirtbag Francsico Armani who tried to steal the funds we raised to help a family that had been devastated by a landslide? Well, he's in Thailand right now. I just received this:

"Hi Don, We need to speak urgently regarding Francisco Armani or should I say Joseph as I know him. I live in Thailand and this guy was staying in our house only 2 weeks ago. His latest scam is to pretend he is on to a big investment via a movie production and needs people to help him on a new catamaran. I have alot of info, photos and stories to tell you. Plus i roughly know where he is in Thailand right now."

Editor's Comment: This piece of crap has been traveling the world, scamming people as he goes. He always rips them off for small numbers - the cost of a couple of days stay at a hostel, a bar or restaurant tab, or what have you. He's a serial scam artist who has made his way through Latin America, moved on through Europe, and now he's in Asia. Sooner or later someone will catch up to him in a big way...

Copyright 2013 Panama-Guide.com.

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Editor Of The Newspaper 'The Visitor' Dies After Falling From Building

Expat TalesThe Homicide Division of the Directorate of Judicial Investigation (DIJ) is investigating the death of Jacob Erhler, a journalist specializing in tourism for The Visitor weekly newspaper.

According to police reports, Erhler fell from the 30th floor of a building in Punta Patilla on Thursday, November 28th during a party.

Reports say the victim hit the fourth floor parking garage area.

So far investigators still do not know why he fell from the building. (Prensa)

Editor's Comment: And once again, the Panamanian journalists can't even get the name right of a foreigner who died...

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Jacob Ehrler - Editor of "The Visitor" - Falls To His Death In Paitilla

Expat Tales By Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com - Jacob Ehrler, the Editor of The Visitor in Panama, died on Thursday evening, 28 November 2013, after falling from an apartment on the 30th floor of a building in the Paitilla neighborhood of Panama City, Panama. Jacob was attending a Thanksgiving Day party at the time of his death.

Detectives from the Panamanian National Police and investigators from the prosecutor's office of the Public Ministry are investigating Jacob's death, which appears on the surface to have been accidental. Toxicology and autopsy results are pending.

I knew Jacob personally, and ran into him not too long ago when we were both auditioning for the same part in a television commercial (neither of us were selected.) During the encounter Jacob told me a wild story about how someone broke into his apartment and tried to kill him, and he escaped by leaping out of a window (and he broke his leg or ankle in the process). In fact, if I remember correctly he was still wearing the cast at the time. I forget most of the details of what he told me. I remember it was a wild tale, and now I'm both wondering if it's possibly related in anyway way to his death, while simultaneously trying to pull the details out of the muck of the back of my brain. I figure the odds are slim - and that Jacob's death was probably just a dumb (bad) luck slip and fall accident - but still it might be worth the investigator's time to revisit the details of that earlier incident. Jacob told me it was all reported at the time, so at least there should be a record of it somewhere.

Jacob and I were both selected as two of "The 9 Most Influential Foreigners in Panama" in an article published in June of last year. We occasionally compared notes and shared information when necessary or appropriate for news related items - but mostly The Visitor does soft and noncontroversial tourist related sorts of articles, while I tend to look for ways to stick my nose, fingers, tongue, and other body parts into the fan whenever possible. So we had similar jobs with greatly different editorial approaches - and we respected one another on a professional level.

Jacob was all over Panama City, as a young and unmarried single guy, and the Editor of The Visitor, he was frequently seen on the party circuit.

Jacob was and Assistant Broker at The Corcoran Group in Manhattan before moving to Panama.

I would like to extend my heartfelt condolences to Jacob's friends and family members for their loss.

Copyright 2013 Panama-Guide.com.

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A Canadian Tourist Was Robbed In San Francisco

Expat TalesThe Canadian tourist Matheus Galantt, of 36 years old, was shot and mugged on Tuesday night, in San Francisco.

The victim explained he was next to the Tomás Gabriel Duque road, past the Club Union, in San Francisco, when he stopped a cab in which three people were also traveling and he was mugged by them.

According to the foreigner, the criminals threatened to kill him and took his money, he did not specify how much.

He also explained they took his iPhone as well.

Once he was robbed, the criminals shot him in his right hand, where he was barely touched by it, but the bullet went through his left hand.

No one has been arrested for this crime. (Critica)

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DIJ Is Still Searching For Bob Ehlert, Who Went Missing In June

Expat TalesThe director of the Judicial Investigation Department (DIJ), Manuel Castillo, denied they have suspended the search of Robert Ehlert, 71-year-old American, who went missing on June 21.

However, Castillo did not set a specific date in which, together with the Federal Bureau Investigations (FBI), they will fly over certain areas Ehlert used to frequent.

He also said private investigators were hired by the family of Ehlert, who are also working on this case.

Castillo said the investigations have covered properties and a vessel owned by Robert Ehlert, a.k.a. Bob.

Ehlert lived in an apartment in the area of San Francisco, in Panama, by the time he went missing.

On the other hand, Castillo denied that kidnapping cases have increased during this year. (Prensa)

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Pilot Blames Bosses for Months in a Hellhole

Expat TalesBy CAMERON LANGFORD - HOUSTON (CN) - A 66-year-old charter jet pilot spent 5 months in a "disgusting" Panamanian prison after his employer made him fly a suspected drug dealer who smuggled $2.3 million into the country, the pilot claims in court.

Carl Moody sued American Jet International Corp. dba Million Air Charter and several affiliates, in Harris County Court.

"Plaintiff was hired by AJI as a pilot in March 2011," the complaint states. "When he was hired by AJI he was 66 years old. As a new hire, Moody participated in training programs and only flew charters within the continental United States.

"AJI had previously entered into a business relationship with Dilleman Solorzano (aka Giovanni). Mr. Solorzano chartered planes from AJI for domestic and international flights. Many of the charters included trips to Columbia, Honduras, Panama, Ecuador, and the Dominican Republic.

"A majority of the flights chartered by Mr. Solarzano were paid for in cash. Mr. Solorzano would give the cash payments, as much as USD $200,000 at a time, to the pilots of the charter. The pilots would have to claim the payments through U.S. Customs. The payments were packaged in stacks of bills, wrapped in heavy black plastic, bound by rubber bands. Mr. Solorzano paid approximately USD $5 million dollars for charters from AJI over a twelve month period. The funds from these payments were commingled among the defendants.

"Some of AJI's pilots raised concerns about Mr. Solorzano's charters. Specifically, AJI's pilots were concerned that Mr. Solorzano was involved in illegal activity, given the locations of the charters, the significant cash payments, and the packaging of the cash. These legitimate concerns were brought to AJI's attention but ignored, and AJI represented to those pilots that they should not worry about Mr. Solarzano, as it was fine to transport him internationally and to continue to accept his cash payments.

"AJI made these representations to the pilots, including plaintiff, even though AJI was aware that U.S. government law enforcement agencies, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), had previously investigated Mr. Solarzano and his activities, and continued to do so."

Solorzano is not a party to the complaint.

Moody claims he knew nothing about Solorzano when AJI assigned him to fly him on his first international flight for the company.

"The flight was chartered by Mr. Solarzano for a flight from Bogota to Panama," the complaint states. "The next day, Mr. Solorzano chartered the plane from Honduras back to Panama. For each of these charters, Mr. Solorzano arranged for the travel of his associates and their luggage. Plaintiff was the copilot assigned to each of those flights.

"Once the plane landed back in Panama, it was searched by Panamanian law enforcement officials. In Mr. Solorzano's associates' luggage, the officials found USD $2.3 million in cash. The funds were packaged in stacks wrapped in heavy black plastic and secured by rubber bands, consistent with Mr. Solorzano's method of packaging cash payments for AJI for his chartered flights. Although Moody knew nothing about the luggage, Moody and the others on the plane were arrested and subsequently charged with money laundering.

"As a result of his arrest, plaintiff was incarcerated in a Panamanian prison for approximately 5 months. He was required to live in inhumane conditions. Plaintiff was housed with drug dealers, sex offenders and murderers. He was subjected to disgusting germ- and vermin-infested living conditions, daily threats on his life and well-being, and the anxiety of not knowing if he would ever regain his freedom or simply die in a Panamanian prison.

"In addition, Moody was separated from his family and friends and had to deal with the possibility of never seeing them or holding them in his arms again."

Moody seeks punitive damages for negligence, negligent misrepresentation, gross negligence, fraud, fraud by nondisclosure, intentional infliction of emotional distress and corporate disregard.

Also named as defendants are REW Investments Inc., Houston Aviation Partners LLC, Woolsey Aviation Inc., Million Air Lackland LLC, Go Fayetteville LLC, Reno Aviation Partners LLC, Gulfport Aviation Partners LLC, Tallahassee Aviation Partners LLC, Million Air Interlink Inc. and Roger Woolsey.

Moody is represented by Robert Davee, with Mills Shirley, of Houston. (courthousenews.com)

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Family of Yvonne Baldelli speaks out on recent FBI findings

Expat TalesBy Karen Castro - YUMA, Ariz. (13 On Your Side) – The family of the woman who went missing two years ago in Panama speaks to 13 On Your Side, just days after federal officials identified remains found on a small island as those of Yvonne Baldelli.

Baldelli's sister is a public radio host at Arizona Western College, right here in Yuma.

She says her family can finally begin to get some closure.

But, she says she won't be at peace until her sister's accused killer is convicted for her murder.

It's been two long years since Michelle Faust last heard news on her sister's whereabouts after she went missing in Panama in November 2011.

But on Wednesday she finally got some answers.

Just a couple of months before her disappearance, Yvonne Baldelli moved to Isla Carenero, an island off the coast of Panama with her then-boyfriend Brian Brimager.

Faust says when her sister first moved to Panama, she always kept in touch with the family.

But after November 2011, around the same time that she went missing, they stopped receiving calls from her—they only got emails.

While Panamanian officials declared Baldelli's disappearance a murder, the FBI was building a case against Brimager for lying to authorities.

And in December 2012, a grand jury indicted him on 10 counts of obstruction of justice and one count for lying to a federal officer.

He was arraigned in June.

For now, Faust says it gives her some relief to know her sister can finally receive a proper burial.

Meanwhile, Baldelli's family remembers their loved one as a generous and caring human being that didn't deserve such a tragic death.

Brimager remains behind bars on no bond.

He will be back in court in November in connection to the indictment in the U.S. for lying to federal investigators.

But he's also awaiting extradition to Panama where he will be prosecuted for the murder of Baldelli. (kstw.com)

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Yvonne Baldelli's Remains Positively Identified Through DNA Testing in Panama

Expat Tales This afternoon the prosecutor confirmed the remains discovered last week in a remote and inaccessible area of Isla Carenero in the province of Bocas del Toro are in fact those of the missing 42 year American woman Yvonne Baldelli.

This announcement confirmed what every detective and investigator I've spoken to over the last week had already assumed - that the remains were those of Yvonne Baldelli.

Yvonne Baldelli has been missing in Bocas del Toro in the Republic of Panama since she was last seen on 26 November 2011. She traveled to Isla Carenero in Bocas del Toro in late 2011 with her former boyfriend, Brian Brimager.

According to the prosecutor, the Panamanian Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences compared DNA samples taken from the remains against samples provided by a member of Baldelli's family who had reported her missing, and the results were positive.

Baldellis' former boyfriend Brian Brimager has been arrested in this case and he remains in custody as the prime suspect. He fled from Panama after Baldelli's demise, and engaged in an elaborate scheme in an attempt to make it look like Baldelli was still alive and living in Costa Rica.

Brimager is in prison in California where he faces federal charges in the US system for lying to federal officers and for trying to cover-up Baldelli's murder. (Telemetro, La Prensa, Dia a Dia, TVN, Panama-Guide)

Editor's Comment: The prosecutor in Bocas del Toro, Vielka Broce, held a press conference this afternoon at 12:15 pm to announce the results of the DNA testing, and the fact the remains found last Tuesday afternoon have been positively identified through DNA testing. At the same press conference she also announced they would be working through the officials in the United States to seek to have Brian Brimager returned to Panama to face trial for the murder of Yvonne Baldelli. However, I don't think Brimager has yet been officially charged with murder in Panama. Regardless, this press conference clearly signaled the intentions of the Panamanian government, and how they plan to proceed going into the future. All of the Panamanian news outlets carried basically the same story this afternoon.

Copyright 2013 Panama-Guide.com.

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Body Found In Isla Carnero Was Confirmed To Be Yvonne Baldelli

Expat TalesThe Prosecutor of Bocas del Toro, Vielka Broce, has confirmed the body found on Isla Carenero is Yvonne Lee Baldelli, who was missing since 2011.

The DNA test, which is highly accurate, confirmed the remains are in fact Yvonne Lee Baldelli, said the Prosecutor.

Lee Baldelli, of 42 years old, was missing since November 26, 2011.

She arrived in the country with her boyfriend, identified as Brian Brimager, in September of 2011 and moved to Bocas del Toro. The boyfriend then returned to the United States by himself.

The Prosecutor of Bocas del Toro said the summary will be coordinated with the authorities in the U.S. and they will request to transfer Brimager. (TVN)

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Body Found On Isla Carenero "Unofficially Confirmed" To Be Yvonne Baldelli

Expat Tales By Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com - Police detectives and investigators who work for the prosecutor's office of the Public Ministry in the Republic of Panama have "unofficially confirmed" the body discovered on Isla Carenero on Tuesday of last week is that of the missing Yvonne Baldelli.

The preliminary identification was made through dental records and other evidence collected from the crime scene where the body was recovered. However there are some technical legal issues regarding how the Panamanian authorities obtained copies of those records - meaning - everyone involved in the case wants to make absolutely sure they are working with an official copy of Yvonne Baldelli's dental records obtained through proper and verifiable legal channels.

Investigators and judicial officials in both Panama and the United States are anticipating eventually one of two scenarios will take place.

In the first scenario, Brian Brimager might be charged with the murder of Yvonne Baldelli in the United States, and he could face trial there. In that case, prosecutors responsible for presenting the evidence in US court will have to be able to prove the body discovered last week was, in fact, that of Yvonne Baldelli. Therefore, US officials - working through the office of the Legal Attaché in the US Embassy in Panama City and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents assigned to that office - have been coordinating with their counterparts in San Diego, California to obtain Yvonne Baldelli's dental records, and to provide them to the Panamanian investigators within a thoroughly documented regimen or "chain of custody" for evidence. Everyone wants the same thing - no room for errors or mistakes, or for a slick defense lawyer to have some crucial evidence tossed at trial.

But another scenario might potentially unfold. It's expected prosecutors in Panama will be charging Brian Brimager with the murder of Yvonne Baldelli this week. Brimager traveled to Panama with Baldelli, and he killed her on Isla Carenero in Bocas del Toro, in Panama. Clearly, the Panamanian prosecutors will have both the legal and moral authority to either request or demand US officials return Brian Brimager to Panama to face trial.

It is highly unusual for anyone to be extradited from the United States to Panama to face trial for murder. In fact, I don't know if it has ever happened - ever - since Panama became a Republic in 1903. The United States and Panama have signed a treaty of cooperation on legal matters and under that treaty the United States is not obligated to return Brimager to Panama. However, the government of the United States can decide - if they choose to - to return Brimager to Panama in response to a request from the Panamanian authorities.

As in the first scenario, issues regarding a solid chain of custody for evidence will be just as important during a possible future murder trial in Panama should that occur. Defense lawyers in Panama could predictably challenge those dental records if there are any holes or questions about how those records were obtained. So, it's the same intent just with the trial taking place in Panama instead of the United States.

And of course if Panama did request the extradition of Brimager, then there will be some sort of a hearing or trial in the United States first, with his defense lawyers resisting or fighting against, in an effort to keep him in the United States.

Today Brimager remains in custody in California after his arrest in June 2013 on charges related to the murder of Yvonne Baldelli. He allegedly lied to the FBI agents who interrogated him regarding her disappearance. Brimager used Baldelli's ATM card in Costa Rica, in an effort to make it look like she was there. After Brimager killed Baldelli and disposed of her body, he lied and told everyone she had left him with another man and went to Costa Rica. Brimager also used Baldelli's laptop computer to compose and transmit email - acting as Baldelli and on her email account - sent to Baldelli's family members. In those emails Brimager (acting as Baldelli) lied and tried to convince her family members that she was fine and in Costa Rica. The details of all of these acts are contained in the Grand Jury indictment against him, which was unsealed when he was arrested two months ago.

So, Brimager remains in prison in the United States on charges related to his attempts to cover up Baldelli's murder, and he potentially faces many years (like, 20 years per count) on those charges. But the real crime at the center of all of this is the murder of Yvonne Baldelli - which occurred in Panama.

Panama could potentially have him extradited back to Panama. There will be a trial. Based on the evidence against him he will probably be convicted and sentenced to about 50 years or so in a Panamanian prison. He will most likely do that time either in the public jail in David (together with the confessed serial murderer William Dathan Holbert), or he might end up in the public jail in Changuinola. Both of those places are relatively hot and uncomfortable with few, if any, creature comforts. Brimager will get exactly the same treatment as all of the other inmates.

Then if Panama ever decides to release him, on bail or for whatever reason at some point far into the future (like, 27 June 2063) then he will be returned to the United States to answer for the pending charges there - for lying to the FBI agents and for trying to cover up his crimes. So yeah, chances are real good this guy will never set foot outside of a jail, ever again, at any point during his life.

There are some additional details regarding the condition of Yvonne Baldelli's remains, what the investigators found at the scene, and grizzly crime scene photos released by the office of Forensic Medicine. I'm withholding and suppressing all of that for two reasons. First and foremost out of respect of Yvonne Baldelli's family members, who have already gone through enough hell. Secondly because I don't want to do anything that might jeopardize the case against Brian Brimager.

I knew all of the details about the emails Brimager sent to Baldelli's family members and the other things he did to cover up his crimes - and I've known about those facts since March 2012 when I was first contacted by Baldelli's family members. I promised them I would not publish any of those details until Brimager was arrested - and now of course all of those details were included in the indictment against Brimager. And look what happened - if I had published all of that stuff when I first learned about it then maybe Brimager might not have tried to lie to the FBI agents? Who knows. In any case now the focus has shifted from getting an arrest, to getting a conviction. I put helping the family and not damaging the case way (way) in front of, and ahead of, "getting the story" or breaking a headline. Justice comes before potentially sensational news reporting, in my book. It's a question of getting the priorities right.

So at this point the bottom line is - the authorities in Panama and the FBI have been able to "unofficially confirm" that the remains found on Isla Carenero are those of Yvonne Baldelli. They are continuing to work through the tasks of using official dental records and DNA to further prove and verify what they already "know" - that they have found Yvonne. Brian Brimager remains in custody and only the details of his future remain to be sorted out - most likely he will die in prison. And finally, Yvonne Baldelli's remains will eventually returned to her family, so she can properly be put to rest. My heartfelt condolences go out to all of her friends and family. God Bless you all.

Copyright 2013 Panama-Guide.com.

A Note To Other News Media Outlets (And Especially Fox News) - Feel free to use anything in this report as long as you include attribution to this website "www.panama-guide.com" - Please do not lift or quote any of the details in this report without including proper attribution (like you did last time, Fox). Thank you very much.

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Police Discover Woman's Body on Isla Carenero in Panama - Possibly The Missing Yvonne Baldelli

Expat Tales By Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com - This afternoon a local Panamanian resident who lives on Isla Carenero in the Bocas del Toro region of the Republic of Panama made a gruesome discovery. He came across a "green military style" backpack while collecting firewood. He thought the bag might have originally belonged to a tourist who had been the victim of a robbery, and it had been discarded in the jungle by a local thief after the valuables had been removed. But when he looked inside the bag the first thing he saw a human skull, so he left the bag where he found it and notified the authorities.

The police detectives who responded to the scene found the bag, which they described to me as a "green military style" backpack. This is potentially important because Brian Brimager is a former US Marine. There was a "skull and some of the bones" in the bag, but the investigators indicated at this point they do not think they have recovered a complete skeleton.

They said judging by the size and shape of the skull, and the fact there were some women's clothes in the bag as well, the victim was most likely a female. They secured the site, and will be returning in the morning when the sun comes up to make a more complete and thorough search of the surrounding area to look for more evidence.

It is important to point out a more complete investigation will be required in order to determine the identity of the victim with certainty. Now the authorities will be able to use DNA samples provided by Yvonne Baldelli's family members in early 2012 to either confirm or deny their suspicions they have at last found the body of Yvonne Baldelli. An investigator told me "we are operating under the presumption this is the body of a woman, based on the size and shape of the skull and the presence of the woman's clothing. We are proceeding under the assumption it could very well be the remains of Yvonne Baldelli, which will of course have to be proven through comprehensive scientific and forensic testing."

You might recall the American Yvonne Baldelli has been missing from Isla Carenero since 26 November 2011. There was an intense effort to find her remains on the island, to include special endeavours and joint missions by the Panamanian Directorate of Judicial Investigation (DIJ) working together with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the investigators and prosecutors from Panama's Public Ministry. There were repeated searches by scuba divers in the waters surrounding the island, and searches by specially trained cadaver dogs all over Isla Carenero, all to no avail. In addition there were searches organized by family members and volunteers who trudged through the swampy inner area of Isla Carenero. Yvonne Baldelli went missing, and her remains had not been found.

Prosecutors in San Diego California in the United States arrested Brian Brimager on Thursday, 27 June 2013, and charged him with crimes related to the murder investigation. They say Brimager traveled to Costa Rica and used Baldelli's ATM there to withdraw money from her account, in order to make it appear like she had left Panama and gone to Costa Rica with another man, as he claimed. He has also been charged with making false statements to federal officers who were investigating Baldelli's disappearance. The indictment against Brimager contains all of the details of what he did, and how he did it. Brimager also used Baldelli's laptop computer to send emails from Baldelli's account to her family members, in an attempt to make it seem like it was Baldelli (and not Brimager) who was sending the emails. Brimager remains in custody in the United States, and he is already facing a very long stretch in federal prison on those charges.

It's also important to point out that so far, Brian Brimager has not been charged with murder, either in Panama or in the United States. The investigators and detectives both in Panama and the United States were hesitant to press murder charges against Brimager, out of fear their case would be significantly weakened because Baldelli's remains had not been found. Obviously, if the suspicions turn out to be true and if these remains are positively identified as belonging to Yvonne Baldelli, then I would expect the Panamanian authorities will file murder charges against Brimager, sooner rather than later. But at this point it appears the decision to hold off and wait turned out to be right on the money.

Editor's Comment: I'm sure this news will be bitter-sweet for Yvonne Baldelli's friends and family members. During the course of this investigation I've gotten to know some of them very well, and they know I'm 100% in their court (God bless you guys). On a personal note, my gut tells me they've found Yvonne. Yeah, I know. That makes me a bad journalist - but I don't care. That's why my comments are here, this is just me talking now. For Yvonne's friends and family I hope they've found her, because it will give them some much needed closure, and will also help (immensely) to nail the bastard who did this. Let's see how it pans out over the next few days and weeks.

Copyright 2013 Panama-Guide.com.

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Former CIA Agent's Residency In Panama Will Be Revoked

Expat TalesThe former member of the CIA, Robert Seldon Lady became a Panamanian resident in 2007 during the government of the former president Martin Torrijos.

This month he was retained at the border between Costa Rica and Panama for 48 hours, but he was released despite the interest of Italy in arrest him for kidnapping charges he had in the country.

Now, the immigration authorities are processing the transaction for revoking his residence.

The Interpol in Panama and the DIJ have refused to talk about Robert Seldon Lady and they only say this is handled by the Foreign Ministry.

The Security Minister, José Raúl Mulino, explained the former chief of intelligence from the CIA in Milan was released because Italy did not request his extradition on time, but it was known that he left to the United States. (TVN)

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Former Spy Was A Permanent Resident In Panama

Expat TalesRobert Seldon Lady, former CIA agent required by the Italian justice that was recently released was living in Panama with no legal or migratory restriction since 2007 when he received his residency, according to immigration authorities.

Seldon Lady was arrested in July 17 when he tried to cross to Costa Rica through the border, and he was retained by the Panamanian authorities, but two days later the American citizen was released at the International Airport of Panama and returned to his country, an event that was secretly handled by the authorities, leaving many questions. The Ministry of Justice of Italy strongly rejected this decision.

The former agent would come and go from Panama without legal and migratory restrictions because he was a permanent resident with the right of an ID. Seldon Lady received his residency in 2007 during the government of Martin Torrijos, and has a tourist pensioner visa; secured by a law from 1987 that grants extensions to foreign pensioners or retired citizens.

The director of the National Immigration Service, Javier Carrillo confirmed to The Associated Press that Seldon Lady legally received his permanent residence and it was granted to him six years ago. “No one has a crystal ball to know the future,” told the official to the AP when he explained that Seldon Lady "was not being looked for" by Italy when he received this status.

"We will review his immigration situation to analyze if we will remove his current status,” said Carrillo.

He also informed that the former agent acquired his residence in the city and sources that met him said he lived out of the radar, in an apartment in the city, and he had plans of purchasing another property in Chiriqui by the border of Costa Rica.

The Panamanian authorities at the time said they released the former agent of the CIA because the Italian embassy did not give the required documents on time to keep him under custody, with the possibility of an extradition.

Seldon Lady, born in Honduras, is facing prison time in Italy after he was sentenced in 2009 for kidnapping an alleged Egyptian terrorist in Milan back in 2003. The former agent left Italy shortly after to start an investigation on the kidnapping, and also retired from the CIA. The Interpol issued a request for his arrest. (TVN)

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US Citizen Robert "Bob" Elhert - Missing In Panama Since 21 June 2013

Expat Tales By Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com - Robert "Bob" Elhert, a 71 year old American citizen who spent a lot of time in Panama, has been declared as missing by his friends and family.

I knew Bob personally. I met him at the Sportsbook watching football games last season. Bob is a Vietnam veteran originally from Harris, Minnesota. (I think) his date of birth is 16 February 1942 (needs to be confirmed). He retired from the company ADT.

Bob owns a sailboat named the "Blue Rhapsody" that is docked at the Shelter Bay Marina in Colon. Bob owns a condo in Panama City and he spends most of his time between Panama City and Minnesota, when he's not out on his sailboat.

Bob was last seen on 21 June 2013 when he left the Shelter Bay Marina in his car - a beige Infiniti with a sunroof and Minnesota license plates. Later that same day one of Bob's friends found a note in Bob's apartment that said "I am going to Boca Del Toro with Diana to see some old friend about some property. I will be back in two weeks. Herb I want you to pay the cleaning and & taxi fare back to Shelter Bay. I will pay you back when I return. Thank you." That was the last time there was any contact.

On 15 July 2013 a close friend called Bob's daughter to ask if she had heard from him. The family members then talked amongst themselves, and everyone realized that no one had heard from him, despite attempts to contact him via email and on the phone. Bob's family and friends are now in the process of ramping up a search effort to find him.

At this point there are more questions than answers. A missing person complaint has been filed with the DIJ in Panama City. The FBI has been notified of Bob's disappearance. Friends in Panama City have been putting up posters.

About His Car: If the note is real and Bob left Panama City for Bocas del Toro from the Albrook airport, then his car might be sitting in the parking lot there. The first step is to determine if he actually left Panama City for Bocas del Toro (via air) or not. Of course he could have driven. His car is going to look something like this;

Bob was supposedly traveling with someone named "Diana" or "Diane." This person has not yet been fully identified.

Bob and "Diana" were supposedly going to travel to Bocas del Toro on 21 June 2013 to see an "old friend" about the possibility of buying a farm. So far it is unknown if Bob actually went to Bocas del Toro or not, nor it is known who he was going to be seeing.

As you can tell, the search for Bob Elhert is just getting underway. If you know anything about what might have happened to him, please contact me via email - don@panama-guide.com - or contact the local DIJ in Panama or the FBI if in the United States.

Copyright 2013 Panama-Guide.com.

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Italy: Convicted Ex-CIA Station Chief Detained in Panama

Expat TalesROME (AP) — The Italian justice ministry says a former CIA station chief who was convicted in the 2003 abduction of an Egyptian terror suspect from a street of Milan has been detained in Panama.

Robert Seldon Lady, the former Milan station chief, was sentenced by an Italian appeals court earlier this year in the extraordinary rendition case to nine years in prison after being tried in absentia in Italy.

The ministry said it didn't immediately have details on when or where in the Central American country Lady was detained.

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Swede Adventure Traveler Missing In The Darien Jungle

Expat Tales By Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com - A 26 year old Swedish man has been missing in the notorious Darien jungle region on the border between Panama and Colombia for almost two months now.

Jan Philip Braunisch was making his final preparations for what he described as a "three month trip through Central America, that will include walking through at least one jungle (the Darién region of Panama, on the border to Colombia), in the rainy season."

He posted a tagline of "9 countries, 3 months" on his blog "Philip in Central America." The nine countries probably would have been Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Belize, and Mexico - before turning to the United States.

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