CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A Corpus Christi jury has returned a guilty verdict against a 45-year-old citizen of Cuba for failing to appear in court as ordered, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.
The federal jury deliberated for approximately 20 minutes following one-day of trial before convicting Noriel Ramos-Garcia as charged.
Ramos-Garcia had been facing charges related to the unlawful transportation of individuals. A U.S. magistrate judge had permitted him release upon positing bond pending further criminal proceedings. As part of his conditions, he was ordered to stay in contact with authorities and attend all court hearings.
However, he did not appear for his court date Jan. 21, 2021.
At trial, a U.S. probation officer testified that in November 2020, Ramos-Garcia ceased all communications with them. Law enforcement was unable to locate him until September 2021.
The jury heard Ramos-Garcia left the United States and traveled to Cuba in November 2020 and returned September 2021. Law enforcement arrested him upon landing in the United States.
The defense attempted to convince the jury that Ramos-Garcia went to Cuba with the intent of delivering medicine for his family members who had been infected with Covid-19. Ramos-Garcia claimed he intended to fly back three days later, but the flights were cancelled. He told the court he did not intend to miss his court date. They did not believe those claims and found him guilty as charged.
U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos presided over the trial and set sentencing for June 15. At that time, Ramos-Garcia faces up to five years of imprisonment and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.
Ramos-Garcia has been and will remain in custody pending that hearing.
The U.S. Marshals Service conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Overman prosecuted the case.