Thursday, April 02, 2009

Panama case leads to lawsuit in Boulder court

Panama case leads to lawsuit in Boulder court
Suit: Ex-business partner falsely kept man in 'hellish' prison
By Ryan Morgan (Contact)

Friday, January 18, 2008
Photo by Joshua Lawton
Bobby Hammond, of Lafayette, spent six months in a Panama jail after a business partner had him arrested.

A Boulder man who spent six months in a Panamanian prison has sued his former business partner, a Marshall woman who had him imprisoned when a land-development deal went south in 2006.
Robert Hammond and his girlfriend, Tamara Pace, are seeking unspecified damages against Kim Opler. The suit alleges Opler used Panama's corrupt legal system to keep Hammond in prison over what should have been a civil matter -- and that she knew the charges against him weren't true.
Opler didn't return a call seeking comment Thursday.
Hammond's legal problems stemmed from a partnership he formed with Pace and Opler to develop properties in Bocas del Toro, a booming beach community near Panama's border with Costa Rica. The partnership between the couple and Opler soured, and Opler told the Camera in 2006 that Hammond and Pace stonewalled her attempts to recover the money she'd invested in several properties.
In early January 2006, Hammond was thrown into prison. He wouldn't be released until July of that year. At the time, Opler said Hammond hadstolen her property and needed to cooperate.
"It's a bummer, isn't it?" she said. "But what you need to know is that this is not just something where for no reason, out of the blue, this is happening to him, and he's sitting there suffering for no reason."
But Hammond and Pace said no charges were ever brought against him. He was eventually released and allowed to return home.
The six months he spent in a hellish prison were devastating to his physical and mental well-being, Hammond said Thursday. He slipped and fell in the shower early in his incarceration, breaking his collarbone. He said he never received proper medical treatment, and the pain continues today.
"I can't sleep on my right side," he said. "With my shoulder the way it is, I can't stop thinking about it."
The lawsuit -- filed this week in Boulder County District Court -- contends that at the maximum-security prison where he stayed, Hammond was "housed with convicted killers and persons associated with the cartel drug lords." The prison has been criticized in U.S. State Department reports that said prisoners face unduly harsh conditions, including water shortages.
Hammond said he had to fight for basic necessities at the prison such as food, water and a bunk to sleep in.
"I wouldn't want anyone to end up there," he said. "It's the most inhumane situation I've ever seen -- much less had to live through."
Hammond's girlfriend was also detained briefly and later released. Pace spent the next year campaigning for Hammond's release from prison and later to have him taken off of house arrest. She said deciding to sue wasn't easy, but she and Hammond need justice.
"I think Bobby needs some vindication," she said. "His reputation is damaged all over town, people are wondering if he really stole a million dollars. And he wants people to know that he didn't."

--- In, "likitikitoo" wrote:
Mon Jan 30, 2006 2:40 am
My self and my boyfriend were arrested last week by PTJ in our home. This
was over a business dispute that at most should have been a civil case. My
Boyfriend, Bobby Hammond, as well as myself were charged with Aggravated
Fraud. I was released with all charges dropped after 32 hours. Bobby was
working with a Boulder Colorado resident, Kim Opler for the last three years
purchasing and developing properties in Bocas. They never had a contract
and there is disagreement about comissions. Until the disagreement was
settled the titles, which were in Bobby's name, were not signed over to Ms.
Opler as she requested. In Ms. Opler's statement her attorney, Nelson
Carreyo, stated that he attempted to reach Bobby about this and couldn't. We
were never presented with any documents to sign.
Previously, we had received threats, both in Panama and Colorado, from her
partner, Dana Gaffin who already has a record in North Carolina for
Harrassing Communications as well as Violence Against Women. He had
also broke into our home in Bocas, stole our private property
to use as his own and threatened our employees.

Bobby is now in a maximum security facility with deplorable conditions. I am
asking for help from anyone in any form. This is not a criminal matter, much
less punishable by imprisonment. There has been no hearing date set. There
has been no bond amount set. Our embassy, which was very helpful in
securing my release has not helped with Bobby's case. Going over the names
on this list, many of you know Bobby and me. I hope you also know that there
is no way we could be guilty of this. If you have any suggestion please write or
call my cell, 011 507 XXXX. Thanks, Tammy Pace.

Jailed over a contract dispute: Bobby Hammond's and Tammy Pace's story

No comments: