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Sunday, September 22 2019 @ 08:35 am EDT

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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 - 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

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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. (

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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. (

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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

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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 - 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

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 "" - 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 - 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

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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 - 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 - - or contact the local DIJ in Panama or the FBI if in the United States.

Copyright 2013

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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 - 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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U.S. Citizen Was Rescued By Units From SENAN

Expat TalesUnits from the National Air Service (SENAN) rescued a 69-year-old U.S. citizen, who was adrift after his vessel suffered a mechanical failure.

SENAN agents located him in his boat 17 nautical miles from Isla Acarita, between Chiriqui and Veraguas.

The U.S. citizen was dehydrated for being many days adrift in the sea, but he was transferred to a hospital for medical attention. (Critica)

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Legally Armed Expat Foils Attempted Home Invasion Robbery

Expat Tales By Don Winner for - Last week a legally armed member of the English speaking community of expatriates in the Republic of Panama was able to successfully repel an attempted armed home invasion robbery, by using his handgun to defend himself. Here are the details of what happened, and how it went down. This is why you subscribe, folks...

Recently - within the past few months - armed criminals have committed a series of well planned assaults against individuals, homes, and businesses in the Pacific beach communities.

In response, members of the expat community have met with high ranking representatives from the Panamanian government, including the National Police, Tourist Police, prosecutors from the Public Ministry, as well as the Tourism Authority.

Without a doubt the government has been made aware of the problem and they are working within their means to do something about it. However the criminals who perpetrate these crimes are working just has hard on the other side to not get caught.

It's a cat and mouse sort of scenario, and last week a couple of the rats got caught, thanks to one expat who used his firearm to defend himself. Here's a quick synopsis of what happened;

  • Three men, at least one of them armed with a handgun, broke into the home of an American expat in Chame. The break in occurred at approximately 1:00 am in the early morning hours of a weekday, last week.

  • There were three people in the house. The owner of the home was asleep in the upstairs bedroom. There were two maids in the house, both of them sleeping in the downstairs maid's quarters. There were also two dogs in the house. One of the two dogs was sleeping with the women in the maid's quarters when the assault started.

  • The three men gained access to the house by breaking in through a sliding glass door in the rear of the house.

  • Once they were inside of the home, they "pushed in" the door to the maid's quarters and they tried to grab one of the maids.

  • At this point, the dog attacked the armed man - this gave the girl a chance to escape, and she did. The armed attacker then shot and killed the dog.

  • The armed attacker then grabbed the other girl and held her at gunpoint, and she started screaming "please don't shoot me." She could see two of the men - one of them was wearing a mask and the other was not.

  • Once the armed men had control of the downstairs part of the house, they went upstairs and tried to gain access to the Master Bedroom where the owner was holed up behind a sturdy door, and legally armed with a handgun.

  • By this time the owner was wide awake, in response to the noise and commotion downstairs. He was on the phone to the local police department, calling for help.

  • Wisely, he stayed behind the locked door.

  • Upon reaching the door to the bedroom, the armed intruders tried to open the locked door, and they could not. They called out to the man, and demanded that he open the door. They lied and told him they were police officers, saying "National Police, open the door.

  • The homeowner refused to open the door, and instead demanded to know their names.

  • At this point they fired a round through the door which missed the homeowner.

  • The homeowner then returned fire, using his legally registered firearm - shooting through the closed and locked door. This caused the intruders to give up, haul ass, and flee the scene.

  • By now the homeowner was calling everyone he knew. He contacted other friends using his cell phone, who also called the police.

  • The homeowner stayed in his bedroom until the "real" National Police officers arrived on the scene.

  • It turns out the assailants also shot a second dog - a Labrador retriever. They shot the dog between the eyes, but the bullet went through his lower jaw and became lodged in his chest. As of this writing the dog has been taken to a vet in Panama City for surgery and is still alive, as far as I know.

  • The police were able to identify one of the suspects, which led to the arrest of the other two.

  • The maids identified at least one of them, who rolled over on the other two. Now supposedly all three of them have admitted their participation in this attempted home invasion robbery.

Editor's Comment: Thank God. It could have been a whole lot worse. The assailants could have shot and killed the two girls downstairs. They could have broken through the door and killed the homeowner. Under the circumstances, the homeowner did a whole lot of things right to protect himself. He was legally armed. He had a couple of dogs. He was not alone in the house. He was behind a solid bedroom door. He was able to use his legal firearm to defend himself. The way this went down, there's not a judge in the world who would convict him if he had managed to shoot and kill one or more of the assailants when firing through the door.

Holy Crap, Batman. Well done. When it all starts going to hell, in reality you only have seconds to decide what to do. The major difference in this case was the fact that the homeowner had a legally registered firearm for home defense and he was willing are ready to use it, to save his own life. Without that weapon, this would be a much different article.

There is one mentally ill individual - a card carrying member of the "Don Winner Hater's Club" - who insists on calling me a "gun nut" or a "gun Nazi" for urging the members of the English speaking community of expatriates in the Republic of Panama to obtain a legal firearm for their self defense. This case is proof, and supports my position. When it all goes to hell at 1:00 am and the bad guys break in through the glass door in the back - hopefully your electronic home alarm will be screaming. The dogs will be barking. The maids will be going nuts. And you will be in your bedroom, locked behind a very solid door (time for an upgrade), with a gun in one hand and a cell phone in the other. And then the bad guys go to prison. Yeah, this one turned out well...

Copyright 2013

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Machete, Murder Comments Among Evidence in Panama Killing

Expat TalesBy Kristina Davis - SAN DIEGO — In the weeks following the disappearance of his girlfriend in Panama, a former Marine sold a used machete online, stating in the ad: “Don’t worry, I’ve only killed one person with it,” a prosecutor said Friday.

The example of Brian Brimager’s odd behavior was among many that the federal government detailed Friday as it laid out a case for murder and deception. The 37-year-old Vista resident is accused of killing girlfriend Yvonne Baldelli in 2011, dumping her body and embarking on an elaborate cover-up scheme.

At the end of an intense hourlong detention hearing in San Diego federal court, U.S. Magistrate Judge William V. Gallo ordered Brimager to remain jailed without bail.

The judge, speaking to Brimager, said the evidence indicates “you have a very conniving, deceptive mind and would stop at almost nothing to cover your tracks.”

“I believe at this point in time you are probably a desperate person,” the judge added.

Baldelli’s friends and family, who crowded one side of the courtroom, broke into applause and tears when the judge issued his ruling.

Brimager, who was arrested Thursday, has pleaded not guilty to charges of obstruction of justice and making a false statement to a federal officer in connection with the disappearance, which Panamanian authorities are investigating as a homicide.

It would be up to officials in Panama to file murder charges against Brimager, and the case remains open there.

In a lengthy presentation to the judge Friday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Conover described a turbulent, violent relationship against the backdrop of a fantasy island lifestyle.

Brimager, wearing a white jail jumpsuit, stood expressionless during the entire hearing as the evidence was laid out against him.

Brimager and Baldelli had dated for about two years in south Orange County before deciding to move to Isla Carenero, a small island near Bocas del Toro, Panama, to start anew in September 2011. She would design and sew bikinis, and he would play guitar in beach bars.

People on the island soon noticed abusive behavior by Brimager, including one incident that left Baldelli bruised, Conover said.

Brimager was known to buy large amounts of cocaine from people on the island, and later told a friend that he had to leave Panama because his “nose was going to fall off,” the prosecutor said.

He was never planning on staying on the island long, Conover said, and was instead leading a “double life,” sending emails to the mother of his child indicating he would return soon to be with her.

The prosecutor said Baldelli found out about the child, resulting in a fight.

Authorities say Brimager killed Baldelli around Nov. 26, 2011, and disposed of her body in an unknown location. He then dumped a bloodstained mattress in the ocean, got rid of her belongings and sent emails to her family pretending to be her, according to an indictment unsealed this week.

The faked emails said Baldelli was with another man in Costa Rica and “having a great time.”

Besides listing the machete on a local Craigslist-type website, Brimager also allegedly made comments publicly bragging that he was among a small percentage of people capable of killing someone, Conover said. (

Editor's Comment: So, will Brimager's new wife Kristin Werkhoven stand stoically beside her man as all of of this evidence comes to light? More importantly, will his new father-in-law (Kristin's father) continue to pay his legal bills, now that he knows the truth and facts of what Brimager did to Yvonne. The time for living in denial is over, in my opinion. As a father who has a daughter, I had to resist the urge to reach out to Kristin's father, to tell him to "wake the fuck up" when I found out he was paying for Brimager's legal defense. I was truly and legitimately concerned for the safety and wellbeing of Kristin and their child (now two children). Whatever - that's now become water under the bridge. Brimager is now in custody and it appears he will be staying there awaiting trial.

Yvonne's family members have been waiting for a long time - very patiently considering the circumstances - for justice to be served. And there is no statute of limitations for murder. Maybe eventually Yvonne's remains will be found, wherever Brimager hid them in Panama. When (if) Brimager is ever released in the United States, then maybe Panama will ask for him to be extradited back down, to face murder charges.

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Brian Brimager's Arrest in Yvonne Baldelli Murder - Full Text Of The Indictment

Expat TalesBy Don Winner for - This article contains the full text of the indictment unsealed today against Brian Brimager, who has been charged with ten counts of obstruction of justice and one count of lying to a federal officer in relation to the investigation into the disappearance of Yvonne Baldelli. Since learning of the arrest this afternoon, I've been able to speak on the phone with several of Yvonne's family members, and they are obviously relieved that - after more than 18 months of waiting - the case is finally moving forward and Brimager has been arrested. He was arraigned in court this afternoon, and as of yet I have not heard what happened at that hearing. Below is the full text of the indictment, which contains explicit details about what Brian Brimager did while attempting to cover up his murder of Yvonne Baldelli in Bocas del Toro, Panama. (more)
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Press Release From Yvonne Baldelli's Family (In Response To The Arrest of Brian Brimager)

Expat TalesSAN DIEGO-- Yvonne Baldelli is our beloved daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, and friend. Yvonne disappeared November 26, 2011 with her two dogs on Isla Carenero, Bocas del Toro, Panama.

For more than a year and a half, our family has been begging for the authorities and the public internationally -- in Panama, the United States, and Costa Rica-- to help us find her and bring her home.

Authorities in Panama upgraded the case to a homicide investigation on May 18, 2012.

We sorely miss Yvonne’s melodious laugh, contagious smile, and her kind heart.

The last person seen with Yvonne was Brian Brimager.

He has in no way helped our family in locating Yvonne since her disappearance in 2011.

Today, he was arrested by U.S. authorities and is in federal custody in San Diego, California on charges of obstruction of justice and lying to a federal officer.

We thank U.S. and Panamanian authorities for continuing the investigation and following every lead in Yvonne’s case.

As a family, we have been cooperating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office, the State Department, and the Panamanian National Police.

Anyone with any information about Yvonne’s disappearance is encouraged to step forward and continue to cooperate with police.

Yvonne did not deserve to be ripped from our family.

We will never recover from her absence.

We are confident in the U.S. government’s case against Brimager.

As a family, we know this process is far from over.

At this point, we pray that justice is served for Yvonne. (Press Release)

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Vista Man Charged With Obstructing Murder Investigation

Expat Tales NEWS RELEASE - OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA San Diego, California, United States Attorney, Laura E. Duffy, For Further Information, Contact: Assistant U.S. Attorneys Hamilton Arendsen (619-546-6669), Sarah Boot (619-546-6709) or Mark Conover (619-546-6763)

For Immediate Release - Vista Man Charged With Obstructing Murder Investigation


Brian Karl Brimager, former boyfriend of United States Citizen Yvonne Baldelli, was indicted by a federal grand jury in San Diego yesterday on charges that he obstructed justice and made false statements to law enforcement in connection with the investigation into Baldelli’s suspected murder in Panama in 2011. (more)

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Feds: Vista man killed girlfriend in Panama

Expat TalesBy Kristina Davis - SAN DIEGO — A federal grand jury indictment unsealed Thursday says a former Marine from Vista killed his girlfriend on an island off Panama in November 2011, and then covered up and lied to investigators about it.

Brian Brimager, 37, was indicted on charges of obstruction of justice and making a false statement to a federal officer. While the indictment does not charge him with murder, it says he killed Yvonne Baldelli, 42, at a hostel on Isla Carnero, a small island near Bocas del Toro, Panama.

Brimager was arrested at his Vista home Thursday morning and was expected to appear in federal court in downtown San Diego in the afternoon.

The indictment says that Baldelli was last seen on the evening of Nov. 26, 2011, leaving a restaurant with Brimager. The south Orange County woman has not been seen since. The indictment says Brimager killed her and disposed of the body in an unknown location.

The two had been in a romantic relationship for about two years, the indictment says.

It also says Brimager then embarked on an elaborate cover-up to explain Baldelli’s disappearance. He sent fake emails from her laptop to her friends and families making it appear she was alive, withdrew money from her bank accounts, destroyed a bloodstained mattress and even got rid of her dog, a King Charles spaniel, the indictment says.

A few weeks after Baldelli’s disappearance, Brimager returned to San Diego and proposed to another woman, identified only as “K.W.” They married a short time later.

The indictment said he made numerous false statements to FBI investigators, including that Baldelli had left Panama for Costa Rica and did not plan to return to the U.S.

Baldelli’s family thanked U.S. and Panamanian authorities in a statement Thursday and prayed for justice. They said Brimager was uncooperative in helping the family and authorities search for her in the year and a half since her disappearance.

“We sorely miss Yvonne’s melodious laugh, contagious smile, and her kind heart,” the statement reads.

“Yvonne did not deserve to be ripped from our family. We will never recover from her absence.” (

Editor's Comment: Finally. Thank God. Sometimes you really have to be patient in these cases. It's important to note that Brimager has not been arrested for the murder of Yvonne Baldelli. The charges against him are related to the things he did once the FBI started investigating the case. For example, he lied to a federal officer in those interviews (which is a crime) as well as obstruction of justice. There might be charges or details related to the misuse of Yvonne Baldelli's email account's - and how Brimager logged on to those accounts once he was back in the US and (writing as if he were Yvonne) tried to convince Yvonne's family members that she was fine and in Costa Rica. It might not sound like much, but Brimager could be facing as much as five years in prison on the obstruction of justice charge, and another five for lying to a federal officer (FBI Agent).

Eventually Brimager will be charged with murder in Panama, but will be more difficult to obtain a conviction without her remains. Not impossible, but difficult. The good news is that now since the prosecutor in California has moved forward, Brimager won't be going anywhere, anytime soon. Also, there is no statute of limitations on murder, so Brimager can be charged with the murder of Yvonne Baldelli at any time in the future by the Panamanian authorities.

I've been working on this case since February 2012 when I was first contacted by Yvonne Baldelli's family. At that time I promised them I would not publish any of the sensitive details about this case until Brian Brimager was arrested. Well, that day has finally come. Hopefully now Yvonne's family members will get some closure. Yvonne's body has never been found. As the situation unfolds in California where Brimager was arrested, I'll be providing some of the details about what he did while he was in Panama, and how he went about covering up the murder.

Yeah, sure, innocent until proven guilty and all of that, but I've known about the strength of the evidence against him for more than a year now. It was solid, and the only reason he was not indicted and arrested a long time ago was because Yvonne's body was never found in Bocas del Toro. It's one of those things where there are different standards. As an investigative journalist I was convinced (in my own brain) that Brimager had murdered Yvonne Baldelli a long time ago, based on what I had learned about the details of the investigation and his conduct, both in Panama and in the United States after he returned to California. However the police investigators and prosecutors, both in Panama and in the United States have a much more difficult hurdle to overcome. They have to have enough evidence against him to obtain a conviction in a court of law.

In my opinion the former Marine should start by telling the authorities where they can find Yvonne's body in Panama. However, I suspect he will stand in a court in California and enter a "not guilty" plea this afternoon. Expect more about this case as it continues to unfold.

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Wild Bill is Sad After His Breakup

Expat TalesWilliam Dathan Holbert, aka "Wild Bill", who is on trial for the murder of five people, requested to be transferred from the public jail of David to the one in Bocas del Toro, claiming he is depressed.

Wild Bill said he was very sad after he broke up with his ex-girlfriend Laura Michel Reese, said his lawyer Claudia Alvarado de Soto.

William does not want to continue in the criminal center in David because the man responsible for the breakup is also in this prison.

The infidelity took place after the prisoner, who is currently Laura Michell Reese’s partner, was taken to the women's center Los Algarrobos to work at the place and took the advantage of maintaining that relationship with the inmate, explained Wild Bill’s lawyer.

"William says this is corruption within the criminal justice system, which is why he is asking to be transferred as soon as possible," said the lawyer.

Soto said he went to the public jail of David, knowing the general director of the prison, Angel Calderon, was at the place; however, through the regional director Ismael Flores, they informed Holbert could not be transferred because he is still on trial. (Critica)

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US Citizen - Pedophile is Arrested in Bocas del Toro

Expat TalesThe American David Francis Aitken was arrested by the police for the alleged crimes of pedophilia and arms trafficking, on Isla Colón, Bocas del Toro.

During his arrest, Aitken, 35, carried $22,000 in cash, photography equipment, a cell phone, a laptop and a tablet.

The American was wanted by the Interpol as he had an arrest warrant in the state of Atlanta, Georgia, in the United States, for a case of pedophilia.

The foreigner came to Panama last May 3 through the border in Guabito, from Costa Rica, according to the police.

Panamanian authorities reported that once they conduct the investigations, the detainee will be handled by the Interpol and extradited to the United States. (Siglo)

Editor's Comment: Hey! Dirtbags! Do not come to Panama, because if there is an arrest warrant pending against you anywhere in the world, the Panamanian Interpol office in the DIJ will flag you upon arrival, arrest you, and deport your ass to face justice. I think this is great, because it deters the lowlifes from coming here in the first place, and also gets rid of them if they are stupid enough to come here anyway.

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Arthur Porter to fight extradition to Canada, seek bail in Panama

Expat TalesAndy Blatchford, The Canadian Press - MONTREAL -- The former head of Canada's spy-agency watchdog is planning to fight his extradition to Canadian soil following his arrest in Panama, his lawyer says.

Dr. Arthur Porter and his wife, Pamela, sat behind bars Thursday in a Panamanian detention centre, a few days after local authorities took them into custody on an Interpol warrant.

Porter, who lives in the Bahamas, has been wanted for months in connection with Quebec's ongoing corruption scandals and the construction of a $1.3-billion hospital complex. His wife faces a related charge.

Arthur Porter has 15 days to contest extradition to Canada Former CSIS watchdog boss Arthur Porter arrested on fraud charges.

Developments in the case reveal an improbable web of interpersonal connections. They place Porter one degree of separation from a pair of notorious 1980s figures: the Lockerbie bomber and former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega.

He is slated to be treated by an oncologist who once examined the Libyan terrorist's cancer. Those medical plans were revealed Thursday by the Porters' Panamanian lawyer, who once helped smuggle cocaine with Noriega.

Porter was appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to head the Security Intelligence Review Committee, which monitors the work of CSIS. He says he's done nothing wrong.

His lawyer told The Canadian Press that the couple will not only contest their extradition, but will also seek bail in the coming days. "He has the right to fight and he has decided to fight," Ricardo Bilonick said in a phone interview from Panama City.

Media outlets had reported that Porter would not fight his extradition to Canada, but Bilonick said things have changed.

"The first day I saw him, which was the day after his arrest, he was very down, obviously," said Bilonick, a former diplomat who testified at Noriega's 1991 trial about their past illegal ties.

"But today I found him very peppy and willing to fight." Bilonick described the Canadian extradition request as poorly formulated. He planned to ask a judge for bail next week, a process that could take a few days or even a couple of weeks.

If the Porters are released on bail, he said they would have to stay in Panama until their extradition proceedings have been completed. Bilonick expects that step to take a couple of months.

Police in Panama say they detained the Porters after learning that Canadian authorities had issued an arrest warrant for them on fraud-related allegations.

The Porters arrived in the country on a flight from the Bahamas. Panamanian police have said Porter stopped in the country en route to Trinidad and Tobago. But Bilonick says Porter indicated to him that the pair was actually headed to Antigua.

Porter, he added, told him he was scheduled to meet with the prime minister as part of a diplomatic mission for his native Sierra Leone.

Bilonick said he believed Porter had used his Sierra Leonean diplomatic passport to enter Panama, before being arrested hours later at a hotel near the airport.

The lawyer maintains that Porter should not have been arrested because of diplomatic immunity.

He also listed Porter's poor health as among a number of additional reasons why he believed the physician should not be extradited to Canada.

"I have several options that I haven't given you... because those are the aces in my hand," Bilonick said.

Porter has said he was suffering from stage-four cancer and was too ill to travel.

Asked why Porter had been travelling despite his poor health, his lawyer replied: "I don't know, I never knew him before... It could have been an important mission (to Antigua)."

Bilonick said an oncologist and business partner of Porter's requested -- and was granted -- permission to travel to Panama to treat him.

Dr. Karol Sikora is expected to arrive in Panama in the next couple of days, he added.

Sikora, who runs a medical clinic with Porter in the Bahamas, was one of the cancer experts who examined Lockerbie airplane bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi.

He and other physicians said the Libyan terrorist -- the only person convicted in the 1988 bombing -- had just three months to live while he was jailed in Scotland.

Their report led to al-Megrahi's 2009 release from prison on compassionate grounds, to live out his remaining days in Libya. He lived another three years.

When asked about the state of Porter's health, Bilonick said he read a medical report from a doctor who had examined Porter. "He's not doing very well," said Bilonick, adding that Porter is undergoing oral chemotherapy.

"I'm not a (medical) doctor, I'm a doctor of law. From what I see, he's ill. I mean, he carries an oxygen thing in his hand."

Bilonick said in the coming days the Porters will be transferred from the Panama City detention centre to separate jails for men and women, about 60 kilometres from the capital.

"The first time I met him I told him you don't want to be in jail because it's not a nice place here," Bilonick said, adding that Pamela Porter seemed to be OK under the circumstances.

Porter, 57, faces charges of fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, fraud against the government, breach of trust, money-laundering, and accepting bribes. His wife, whose arrest warrant had not been public, faces charges of money-laundering and conspiracy.

The physician is one of several people facing charges stemming from the construction of the $1.3-billion McGill University Health Centre in Montreal -- one of Canada's biggest infrastructure projects. He received prestigious appointments from different levels of government in Canada.

Porter abruptly resigned from his federal post in November 2011. He also quit his job as director of the McGill hospital network and left the country.

He has been working as the managing director of a private cancer treatment centre in the Bahamas. Porter told media a few months ago that he had late, stage-four cancer and was too ill to travel to Canada.

Porter looked frail in images that appeared with news reports in recent months.

Bilonick said he did not know Porter before he was contacted by several people and was asked to represent him, including through a call from the couple's daughter.

"He seems to be a very nice person," he said of Porter. "I understand he has occupied very sensitive positions in Canada." (

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Extradition better option than Panama jail

Expat TalesPANAMA CITY, Panama — Escorted by two Interpol police officers, former MUHC executive director Arthur Porter bowed his head and shuffled through a parking lot, from the rudimentary medical clinic at one end back to his jail cell at the other, as reporters got a first glimpse Wednesday of the disgraced doctor now being held for extradition back to Canada.

Porter, who has said he has Stage 4 lung cancer and is too ill to travel, was arrested at his hotel room in Panama City on Monday, 12 hours after arriving in Panama from the Bahamas, and after his wife, Pamela Mattock, was detained at Tocumen International Airport.

Dressed in blue Bermuda shorts and with an oxygen tube through his nose, Porter said nothing when asked why he came to Panama, or whether he would fight the extradition.

But in an interview with the Gazette, Panama National Police deputy commissioner Alexis Muñoz said Porter told him he was ready to return to Canada voluntarily — especially after Muñoz described prison conditions in Panama.

"I told him that if he fights the extradition, he could be here two or three or six months, and if he loses, he will still go back to Canada," Muñoz said."

But in the meantime he would be in a regular prison. It's not good for a man like him to be in a Panamanian jail. I told him volunteering to go back would be better. He said he thought that sounded like the best way. "

For now, Porter is living in a 3-metre-by-3-metre cell that he shares with another inmate who Muñoz described as a petty con man — not dangerous, but sly.

He has no television or radio, and must be escorted by police to the bathroom. He eats beans and rice and meat — just like everyone, Muñoz said, and there is no air-conditioning.

The temperature in Panama City is expected to hold steady at 32 to 34 degrees for the next ten days — before the humidity is factored in.

And Porter must be handcuffed wherever he goes. His one trip so far has been to a local hospital, where he was examined for about an hour on Tuesday. The doctor said he was in adequate physical shape — "apt" for detention.

Porter came to Panama with a portable chemotherapy kit, and he has a scar on his shoulder where he inserts an intravenous tube, Muñoz said. His one request to prison guards was that he be allowed to administer his own treatments. The request was granted.

But Muñoz said Porter seemed in better physical shape on Tuesday.

"(Tuesday), he was walking normally, talking normally. (Wednesday), he had a tube (for oxygen) in his nose."

The Canadian government has 60 days to send the foreign affairs department in Panama enough evidence to justify his ongoing detention and eventual extradition. After 60 days, Panama could grant the request or deny it.

If the request is granted but Porter contests his extradition, the case will be brought before Panama's top court to decide.

If Porter decides to fight his extradition, he will be transferred to a regular prison, such as La Joya — Spanish for jewel — which houses 4,000 inmates of all kinds in overcrowded, and according to some reports, unsanitary conditions.

"In his condition, I don't think he wants to be in a Panamanian jail," Muñoz said.

But if Porter volunteers to go back to face charges, he could be on Canadian soil in about 15 to 20 days — the time it takes to complete all the paperwork and for Canada to send a police officer to escort him.

Porter, who was appointed a member for life of the Privy Council of Canada, and was even named chairman, by Stephen Harper, of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, the country's spy watchdog, has been accused of breach of trust, taking bribes and secret commissions, and money laundering as part of a criminal conspiracy that investigators allege saw SNC-Lavalin awarded the $1.1-billion contract for the MUHC superhospital, now being built at the Glen Yards in Montreal.

Also charged were SNC-Lavalin's former CEO, Pierre Duhaime, and vice-president Riadh Ben Aissa, as well as another MUHC executive, Yanai Elbaz and his brother, lawyer Yohann Elbaz.

Pamela Mattock, who was also given a "perp walk" through the parking lot Wednesday, has been charged with money laundering.

In documents provided by Panamanian police, it is alleged Porter sought information from one consortium bidding on the superhospital project and sold it to the other. He is accused of doing the same for the second consortium, allegedly pocketing (and laundering) his part of $22.5 million that SNC-Lavalin could not account for.

Pamela, who recently sold the couple's house on Doctor Penfield Ave. in Montreal for $1.1 million, was allegedly the head of a dummy company set up to launder the money.

But while the other alleged co-conspirators were arrested and released in Canada pending their trials, Porter was in the Bahamas, unapproachable. Until Sunday.

Deputy police commissioner Muñoz described Porter's arrest as the result of tight co-operation between Panamanian and Canadian police forces. Canada had alerted Panama that Porter could be visiting different countries, despite an international arrest warrant issued for him in February. Then immigration officials saw his name on a passenger list before he had even arrived in Panama.

When they attempted to arrest Porter at the airport, however, Porter produced a diplomatic passport from Sierra Leone, his birth country, for which he is said to be an "ambassador plenipotentiary."

The police were forced to let him go, while at the same time taking Pamela Mattock into custody.

Muñoz returned to his office, however, to conduct his own investigation, and discovered that Sierra Leone rescinded Porter's diplomatic status when the scandal broke in Canada. Police drove to his hotel and arrested him.

In his hotel, they also found plane tickets indicating the couple planned to stay in Panama for just one day, then fly to Trinidad and Tobago.

Porter has not said why he came to Panama, reputed to be a destination for people with offshore accounts and companies. On the day of his arrest, France added Panama to its list of countries serving as tax havens.

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Former Montreal hospital executive Arthur Porter faces likely extradition from Panama

Expat TalesBy: Allan Woods MONTREAL — A former health-care executive and alleged fraudster is likely to put up a fight against extradition efforts, but experts say it is only a matter of time before Dr. Arthur Porter is brought back to Canada to face justice.

The 57-year-old former head of the McGill University Health Centre is alleged to have participated in a bid-rigging scheme related to the construction of a $1.3-billion hospital in Montreal. He was arrested Monday along with his wife shortly after their arrival in Panama.

Pamela Mattock was taken into custody at the airport Sunday when the couple arrived in the Central American country from their home in Nassau, Bahamas. Porter initially avoided arrest, reportedly by flashing a diplomatic passport from his home country of Sierra Leone, where he is recognized as “ambassador plenipotentiary,” according to Montreal’s La Presse.

After reviewing the case, however, and realizing that an important international fugitive was at risk of going free, Panamanian police swept down on Porter’s hotel to take him into custody. Reports suggested they captured him shortly before he was scheduled to leave on a connecting flight to Trinidad & Tobago.

The question now is whether it was hubris or merely lack of attention that has landed the notorious social climber, who secured friends in some of Canada’s highest political offices, in a Panama jail cell.

The charges, including fraud, conspiracy and receiving secret commissions, were laid against Porter last February by Quebec’s anti-corruption force.

Also charged were former SNC-Lavalin president Pierre Duhaime and vice-president Riadh Ben Aissa, MUHC executive Yanai Elbaz and Jeremy Morris, who runs the Bahamas-based firm Sierra Asset Management.

The allegations are that SNC-Lavalin made a $22.5-million payment to Porter through Sierra Asset Management in exchange for the contract to build McGill’s new hospital, which is set to open in 2015.

Mattock is additionally charged with money laundering, Quebec’s anti-corruption squad said in a statement announcing the arrests Monday evening.

It’s not known if the oncologist, who has degrees and certificates from schools like Cambridge and Harvard, knew that Canada has had an extradition treaty with Panama since 1907. But he was well aware of the seriousness of the allegations against him, refusing in several media interviews since the charges were laid to return to Canada (though he suggested he would be happy to meet with investigators at his home in Nassau).

His reasoning at the time was that he had been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer that was spreading through his body. He made no attempts to unhook himself from the oxygen tank feeding him air during meetings with reporters and his hair was thinning or falling out in the way that is common after some types of cancer treatment.

Yet there was no sign of infirmity or illness when cameras captured him walking away Monday in handcuffs wearing a light-coloured suit over a black shirt, flanked by Panamanian police.

The diplomatic immunity argument used by Porter when he arrived in Panama is likely to resurface as the extradition process proceeds through the court system. But one lawyer with experience in extradition processes (but no involvement in the Porter case) says the defence will probably be quickly overruled.

“In reality, they could choose to ignore it and say that he’s not travelling on official business, that he’s using it as a shield to extradition when in fact it’s just a ruse,” Joseph Neuberger said. “So long as everything else is in order with respect to the request, he could be extradited.” (Toronto Star)

Editor's Comment: I think it's hilarious how people have not figured out that Panama is now filtering each and every passenger who passes through the Tocumen International Airport - even if it's just for a connecting flight - against the Interpol database of wanted fugitives. There have been dozens of these sorts of arrests, and in fact they happen every day. The fact that his is a high profile guy and his arrest is huge news in Canada is sort of secondary, for me at least. I think the much bigger story is that now Panama is scooping up fugitives like this on a regular and routine basis. And eventually his little schemes to avoid being extradited back to Canada will fail. So spread the word far and wide. If you're a dirtbag who's wanted somewhere, don't book a flight that passes through Panama, because you'll get caught, arrested, and deported back to the jurisdiction that wants you. Excellent. The water in the pool is getting just a little bit cleaner with each passing day. So Panama is getting good at catching international trash. Now if they would only do a better job of cleaning house at home...

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Panama INTERPOL Arrests Two Canadian Citizens Wanted For Fraud

Expat TalesInterpol agents from Panama arrested the Canadian citizens Arthur Thomas Porter and Pamela Porter, who are wanted by the authorities from their country for being allegedly being linked to Government Fraud, according to official sources.

Arthur Thomas, 57, and his wife, Pamela, of 53 years old are linked to the alleged crimes of fraud against the Canadian Government. Among these crimes are forgery of documents, public market frauds, secret commissions, money laundering and criminal plotting, informed the Panama National Judicial Direction (PN) in a notice.

According to authorities, Arthur Thomas Porter, who was arrested last Monday in a local hotel, worked for a health institution from the Government in Canada, from which he provided strategic information to companies in the process of making contracts, and to their competitors.

Porter is being charged for the forgery of documents for the amount of 22.5 million dollars. Regarding his wife, Pamela, who was arrested last Sunday at the Tocumen International Airport after her arrival from Nassau, was directing a company associated with the control of bank accounts for criminal acts.

On the other hand, the National Police also informed about the arrest of a Costa Rican citizen, Ignacio Alfonso Perez Echeverria, of 56 years old, who is wanted by the authorities of the United States for alleged money laundering.

Perez Echeverria was detained at the Tocumen airport after his arrival at Panama city from Costa Rica.

The Panamanian police informed these three individuals are under the responsibility of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where they will continue with the necessary formalities for deporting them accordingly. (Panama America)

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US Expat Nicholas Tuffney Arrested For Raping Minors in Darien (See Extensive Editor's Comments)

Expat TalesA 50-year-old U.S. citizen was arrested on the morning of Thursday May 16th by units from the Panama Interpol (DIJ), due to 6 complaints filed against him for the alleged crime against Freedom and Sexual Integrity against minors.

The arrest took place at the Tocumen International Airport where the man known as "Nick", who is wanted by the authorities in La Palma, Darien, was about to leave on a flight to Costa Rica.

According to early reports, the U.S. citizen allegedly persuaded children between 12-15 years old, giving them liquor and hush money. (TVN)

Related Articles: Before you read my editor's comments, it would be good if you could take the time to review the earlier reporting about this guy from late August 2012;

  • Find Nicholas Tuffney - Wanted For Raping Children in the Darien 28 August 2012

  • Nick Tuffney Responds To Allegations Of Sexual Assault Of Young Girls In The Darien - 30 August 2012

    Editor's Comment: Starting several weeks ago, I received a series of emails from concerned individuals who knew what Nicholas Tuffney was doing in the Darien. These were people who had worked in the Darien with the Peace Corps, Christian missionaries, and USAid who had made contacts with the people in the village where Nick Tuffney was raping young girls. I advised all of those people they needed to come to Panama and file official and formal complaints with the Panamanian authorities. To their undying credit - that's exactly what they did. I spoke to one person on the phone about this case and he said they were going to fly down to Panama the following day from the United States, specifically to file a complaint against Tuffney. Their actions prompted the Panamanian authorities at the national level to act, and to apply additional resources to this case.

    On Wednesday 24 April 2013 I received a call from a high ranking official in the Panamanian government, who was looking for additional information on Nick Tuffney. We exchanged several emails, and I provided them with a "data dump" of everything I had collected myself since August 2012 on this guy. I gave them everything I had - all of my historical email and records of my contacts with Tuffney and others - which they presumably blended into their investigation efforts. All of the stories and information was consistent - Tuffney was raping young girls in the Darien. I also prompted these high ranking officials to take action.

    It turns out Tuffney was living with a family in the Darien, and he was basically paying off the family by providing them money, and they allowed him to have sex with their young daughters. Tuffney had sex with several of the young girls in town, more than once, many times, over a very long and extended period of time. He's a rapist, and a pedophile.

    When this story first broke in August 2012 I did eventually talk to Tuffney directly on the cell phone. I extended him my offer to take a polygraph (lie detector) exam to clear his name. I told Tuffney it should be an easy test to pass because he only had to get by one question - "Have you ever had sex with a child." He declined to take the test. And, I made up my mind about Tuffney at that time. So, I was very happy to see that the concerned NGO's were willing to take up the mantle and go after him.

    Their efforts paid off. I held back and didn't report on all of this stuff, because I was waiting for the Panamanian authorities to arrest Tuffney. They got him today as he attempted to flee Panama for Costa Rica, so he had apparently gotten the word that his little sick world was going to come crashing down around him.

    Hopefully there will be enough evidence and testimony against this dirtbag to put him in La Joya for a very long time - like, forever. And maybe this will serve as a lesson and a warning for anyone else out there (expats) who are abusing, raping, and FUCKING children in Panama. You will be caught, and you will go to prison. It's only a matter of time. Consider this - who might have sent me an email about you? Think about it. You're next, dirtbag...

    Copyright 2013

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    Remembrance Service For Donna Potuzak

    Expat Tales A Remembrance service for Donna Potuzak who died recently in a tragic accident, will be held on Thursday May 16 at the Balboa Yacht Club, on the Amador Causeway. The commemoration will start at 1.30 pm under the big bohio. Her husband Rob says: “No black suits and no black ties. Dress should be "Panama casual. This is a celebration of a life well lived. She loved life and she will be missed by everyone who knew her."
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