US Grand Jury Charges Two Brazilian Bishops with Smuggling and Lying

Brazilian bishops Estevam and Sonia Hernandes A Miami grand jury has indicted Estevam Hernandes-Filho and Sonia Haddad Moraes Hernandes, a Brazilian couple who founded the evangelical Renascer em Cristo (Reborn in Christ) Church on charges of false statements and smuggling money into the United States, part of it inside a Bible.

The Hernandeses, who are bishops of the Church they created in 1986 – it has become one of the largest evangelical denominations in Brazil with more than 1200 temples and 2 million faithful – were arrested January 9, in the Miami airport, carrying US$ 56,500 in cash although they filled up their forms telling they had about US$ 21,000.
 
The couple is expected to be seen today by a federal judge for arraignment. Today's hearing has already been postponed twice from January 24 to January 29 and again to February 6. The first time, due to a request by the prosecution and the second one to accommodate the defense lawyer, Susan Van Dusen, who asked more time to prepare the case.

Hernandes Filho and his wife are named in four and five counts respectively, with each charge punishable with up to five years in jail. An agreement between the prosecution and defense fixed the bail amount in US$ 100,000.

While free on bond they are practically under home arrest since they had their Brazilian passports confiscated and are forbidden to leave the South of Florida. Both are being monitored by electronic surveillance devices placed in their ankles.

In case they are convicted in the US, husband and wife will have to serve time before being extradited to Brazil, where authorities have already filed the necessary papers with the US Justice to put their hands on them.

The church founders are on Brazil's most wanted list, charged with stealing millions of dollars from the church's coffers to buy personal real estate and other assets.

It's believed thought that even if convicted they will not spend more than 21 months in American jails. In case they can prove the money they were hiding is legal they might even escape jail.

Extradition, however, seems certain at this time and all indicates that they will also lose their green cards, a document that proves legal residency in the United States. They also risk as well being barred from the US as tourists, at least for a few years.

Tags:

Ads

You May Also Like

Brazil & Neighbors May Be Rich, But They Are Economic Lightweights

Latin America has  some of the world’s largest countries, in terms of land area, ...

Brazil’s Petrobras Pumps 6% Less Oil Overseas

Brazil’s state-owned oil company Petrobras had its domestic and foreign production of petroleum and ...

Without a Revolution in Education Brazil Will Never Go to the Moon

We commemorated two anniversaries on the same day, July 16. In the United States, ...

Brazil’s Lula Tells His Presidential Candidate Rousseff to Act as Mother of the Poor

Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva compared candidate Dilma Rousseff to a mother ...

Lower Interests Expectation Takes Brazil Market to Record High

Brazilian and Latin American shares rose, as investors await the unveiling of Argentina’s acceptance ...

Anthony Garotinho

Hunger Strike, Oil-Dirty Hands, Blame the US…Populism Is Back in Brazil

"(As) a way of protest, I begin…a hunger-strike as a last resort in defense ...

US Says in Brazil It Will Find Way Out of WTO’s Dead End If There Is One

International trade officials sought to strike a positive tone at the end of a ...

Putin Talks About Space Exploration with Brazil

The president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, poured praise on the Brazilian government as he ...

Brazil’s Green Genetic Bank Soon to Be World’s Fourth Largest

Brazil is preparing to rise in the global ranking of leading holders of plant ...

How to Live and Thrive in Semi-Arid Brazil

When it signed the UN Millennium Development Goals agreement, Brazil assumed responsibilities like ending ...