When Patrick Joseph, the former head of Haiti’s state-owned telephone company, steps into a federal courtroom in downtown Miami on April 17, the future of Haiti’s former president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, may take a decisive turn toward an American prison cell.
Security will be tight, especially since Joseph’s elderly father, the former head of Haiti’s central bank, was shot dead in Haiti last week. Two gunmen on motorcycles shot Venel Joseph as he was driving home, shortly after it became known his son was cooperating with an investigation of Aristide in Miami.
At his upcoming court date, Joseph, 50, will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez in a sweeping federal investigation of systematic corruption at the highest levels of the Haitian government during the Aristide administration. Both Joseph and his late father were named to their government posts by Aristide.
Aristide, a former Roman Catholic priest who remains popular among Haiti’s poor, was first elected president of Haiti in 1991 and after a tumultuous on-and-off tenure, was finally ousted from power in a 2004 coup. He returned to Haiti last March after a seven-year exile in South Africa.