Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

A South African businessman who was jailed for two weeks in Thailand and forbidden to leave the country for a year after demanding a refund from two prostitutes who did not provide any sex services has been acquitted by a court in the resort of Pattaya.

Mark Berchowitz, who publishes The Green Gazette, the government gazette of South Africa had faced trumped up services of robbery by night and being in Thailand illegally.

In fact, he had a valid visa for Thailand. The charge of robbery by night, a serious offence under Thailand law, related to holding on the women’s ID cards, which had been handed in to security at his apartment block, with the intention of making a complaint to police the following day.

He duly made the complaint and was arrested.

Berchowitz may have been somewhat na├»ve in not expecting some sort of retribution from the women or Thai police, or that ‘sex tourists’ had rights. 

But there was no evidence that he intended to permanently deprive the owners of their possessions.
Once banged up on the false charges he was then shaken down for some 250,000 Thai baht bail money by a lawyer’s assistant – more than double the amount demanded by the court. *

Instead of the matter being dealt with quickly in the ‘Tourist Court’, which had been trumpeted by the authorities to deal with such cases, it case went into Pattaya’s laborious legal system, and continued to be delayed.

This may have been because the prosecution witnesses in the ‘robbery’ case had long since disappeared – and his passport were clear evidence that the visa charge was trumped up.

Berchowitz had picked up two prostitutes for 1000 baht each which he paid to the Lisa Coyote Bar in Pattaya’s Second Road in June last year. 

Lisa Coyote
Technically the customer is merely paying for the woman’s company but there is an understanding that the woman will provide sex services. And indeed, he said he had come to an agreement for one woman to stay for a short time sex at 1,200 baht (US$34.30) and the second to stay all night for 2,500 baht (US$70.50). 
An agreement was further made, he said, that he would pay 1,200 up front.
But at his apartment the women demanded he pay all the cash up front.
“I am not concerned about making this public. I am a single man. And I had taken other woman home for enjoyable evenings, even on the occasion when no sex was involved. “But these women were different. Their friendly attitude changed to being very pushy and I had previously agreed only to pay 1,200 baht up front. Their attitude made me think I just did not want to spend any more time with them,” he said.“I did not want to get into any further argument so I suggested we all return to the bar together so I could get a refund, but they refused. “On the way out I took their ID cards as from the security guard with the intention the following morning of taking the matter to police to mediate. And that’s what I did.  There had been a previous occasion in which police had assisted me.”
Mr. Berchowitz is awaiting the return of his bail. As a result of the ordeal and not being able to work his business had slumped 25 per cent, he said.

*The overcharge has since been repaid after he hired a different lawyer.

COMMENT: Don’t try this at home. The Pattaya Police and courts are money generating machines. Legal con men abound with the tacit approval of police who are in on the act. It’s one thing to stand on principal, another thing to stand on principal in Thailand. 

There is no such thing as case law in Thailand and though you may have support from a certain sector of society this is never going to be a cause celebre and it’s probably best to cut your losses. 


Jacob Jade Davies, an Australian national has failed, as expected, to turn up in Pattaya court after paying some 800,000 (AUS$30,573) bail on charges of entering Thailand illegally, and drugs possession. 

Davies had already been convicted of drugs possession and been given a15 month prison sentence suspended for two years.  

His bail was put up by David Hanks,68, the Australian Scot former boss of Masquerades brothel in Keysborough, Victoria. 

Davies’ legal advisor was Brian Goudie, from Falkirk, who is appealing a three-year prison sentence for fraud and embezzlement – cheating a 78-year old American woman out of US$250,000 plus while posing as a lawyer. 

Hanks, dirt cheap lawyer, and Goudie

Hanks, Goudie, and Davies had all given their address as the Jaggie Thistle, now the Key Bar in the Jomtien Complex, Pattaya.  

Key Bar

Goudie is also on the run having failed to turn up and pay bail on charges relating to fraud and revenge porn. He is also subject to a bankruptcy order.  Prior to arriving in Thailand under the name Brian Goldie he had been jailed in Australia for six years for theft. He is currently also on bail on charges of fraud bought by three foreigners he represented in a condo deal.

Goudie had acquired the ‘Jaggie Thistle’ from former Ulster drugs trafficker Jimmy ‘Doc’ Halliday by getting him to sign over a Power of Attorney by pressing his thumb on the form on his death bed in the Bangkok Pattaya hospital. Halliday was had been temporarily released from Nong Plalai jail and was being treated for the flesh-eating disease necrotising fasciitis.

Goudie is a remarkable operator and describes himself as, thorough, vile, evil, sneaky and ruthless.

A Goudie SMS
He has even terrified Thailand’s Foreign Foreign Correspondents Club, who were scared to run a film showing his activities – though he earned a programme to himself on the series TV series ‘Serial Swindlers’.

All human life is here.


Tim said...

Hanks forfeits the bail money then? That's brightened up my day...

Steam Punk said...

this SA person seems by all accounts to be a genuine sort but, in no way did he have color of right to take and retain possession of the ID cards of Thai prostitutes or anyone else for that matter....that was the litmus test landing him in hot water and an extended stay behind the pipes. It is an unfortunate outcome for him but one that could have easily been avoided. Lessons learned...the difficult and expensive way.

Trollmeister General said...

Why was Berchowitz originally forbidden to leave Thailand for a year, presumably after serving his sentence AD? (Your opening sentence does not clarify that point).
Surely the norm is to expel a person from a country after the sentence has been served, rather than to keep him in it?
I made the point the last time AD covered this story, on the thread to which he provides a link, and I will make it again.
Why were the Thai Police allowed to charge him with the visa offence, when it was as plain as a pikestaff that he possessed a valid visa?
Does Thailand not have a Dept of Justice or Crown Prosecution Service, (or equivalent), to either advise or direct the appropriateness of charges?
Now that Berchowitz has been acquitted, can he sue the Thai Police for wrongful arrest and / or wrongful prosecution?
Can he make a claim for wrongful imprisonment?
If not, why not?

Bob Kneale said...

Because he stole (however temporarily) the prostitutes ID cards at night, a serious offence, I would imagine there was no wrongful imprisonment. He was not allowed to leave because the case was pending, he had served no court imposed sentence, this report is of his acquittal in the last few days.

Bob Kneale said...

"As a result of the ordeal and not being able to work his business had slumped 25 per cent, he said."

Andrew, you clearly censored my perfectly rational comment yesterday, but I will make it again. The events that you describe were the direct result of this man's own actions entirely. He has no one to blame except himself for the 25% business slump. Deliberately depriving Thai citizens of their ID cards, regardless of those person's occupations, was stupid and arrogant. He ddin't deserve all the hassle he got but some reaction against his actions should have been expected and to not expect it was naive, particularly as this wasn't the first time that he had put himself in a similar position.

Mark Berchowitz said...

Mark would like to offer further insight into the "money making machine" and mode of operandi:

i) Subject arrives at the Thai police station to make a complaint. Police raise 2 false charges, then imprison and hold the subject to extortion. The subject refuses to make corrupt payments for release. The subject has no choice but to hand over their ATM card to make the bail prior to being admitted to Nong Palai State Prison.

ii) The legal system is then used to secure in this case almost all funds within the subjects bank account. The bank balance at time of being admitted was 150,907.93 THB. The bail backed by the false charges coincided and was set at 150,000 THB effectively enabling the subjects bank account to be wiped out to within 0.7%.

iii) The funds are then recycled in the form of concocted and inflated legal fees against the bail secured in the name of the attorney, Mo, who appeared at the court prior to the subject being admitted. Unity Inter Law raised charges of 70,000 THB for a bail application, which does not require any legal expertise, and could have been processed at no cost had a friend been present.

iv) A further 90,000 THB was paid over to Gunn Legal Services to represent Mark in the 1.5+ year defense against the obvious false charges including being present illegally in Thailand and reporting of such to the Ambassador of South Africa. The perfectly valid and legitimate passport 459232955, and Visa B5977468, were not only available, but also taken from Mark's apartment while held imprisoned.

v) Legal fees are in excess of 140,000 THB, and the bail for the ordeal reached 250,000 THB. Had Mark not been acquitted of the false charges 3 Nov, 2016, a further bail of 200,000 THB which was brought to Court would have needed to be deposited.

Further comment: There is reason to believe the sudden, and thus far unrecoverable, dip in business traffic, and revenue, around the date of admission to prison i.e. 21 May, 2015 is more likely a result of the unjust damages to Mark's reputation and credibility.

Mark Berchowitz said...

Mark's response to Mr Kneale's comment:

Cards were obtained since there were at least 3 prior crimes committed against Mark where offenders were either not investigated or disappeared including i) group assault leaving a 3cm x 2cm indentation as partial depressed skull fracture, ii) identity theft, and iii) damage to property.

Sworn documented statement from Northpoint Security guard, Korn, details the reason for handing over the cards to Mark in the interests of arranging a refund or exchange, of the stolen bar fine following the ladies refusal to accompany Mark back to the bar. Northpoint security manager's document concurs. At no time was the intention perceived to be otherwise. The ladies were fired from the bar the same evening while Mark was held in jail.