Public Prosecutor Says Fine of R$ 35,000 Is Too Low for Swimmer and Seeks Injunction
Rio's public prosecutor (MP-RJ) obtained an injunction from a judge to challenge the R$ 35,000 (US$10,000) fine imposed on the 26 year old American swimmer James Feigen, who was involved in the lie about the robbery.
In a statement published on its site, the public prosecutor says the R$ 35,000 fine is too low and inappropriate "given the gravity and wide reaching negative repercussions of the swimmer's crime." The prosecutor wants him to pay R$ 150,000 (US$ 47,000).
"The decision to fix the value of the fine at R$ 35,000 through the supposed plea bargain, was made without the consent of the public prosecutor, who had proposed a fine of R$ 150,000, which was rejected by the swimmer's defense on the grounds that it would be disproportionate," says the statement.
According to the Rio Court of Justice (TJ-RJ), the swimmer presented proof of payment for R$ 35,000 on Friday (19) before the Fan and Major Events judges. The money has been divided between construction materials, donations to the Reação Institute, an NGO that offers sports classes to underserved residents in the area.
Judoka Rafaela Silva, a Rio 2016 gold medalist, went through their program. Once the fine was paid, the judge ordered that the passport be returned to the swimmer, who left São Paulo on Friday night (19).
The public prosecutor says the judge determined the fine before negotiations between the public prosecutor's office and the swimmer's defense had been finalized.
Prosecutor Cláudia Duarte, responsible for the case, initially suggested that Feigen serve community service hours during the Paralympics, but this was rejected by the swimmer's defense. She then proposed that he pay R$ 150,000, which would go towards child protection agencies and shelters.
Attorney Breno Melaragno, who defended Feigen, said the swimmer received a scholarship and would not be able to afford the fine, and proposed he pay R$ 20,000. The prosecutor did not agree with the amount and Judge Tulla Mello decided on the R$ 35,000 that would go to the Reação Institute.
James Feigen, and his 32 year old teammate Ryan Lochte, were charged with false communication of a crime by Rio Civil Police. They lied in their testimonies to the police on Sunday (14), when they said they had been victims of an assault on their way back to the Olympic Village in Barra after a party at Club France, in the Lagoa.
The duo was accompanied by colleagues Gunnar Bentz, 20 and Jack Conger, 21 - who did not file complaints with the police. They testified after it was confirmed that the version of the story told by their compatriots was untrue.
Feigen paid the judge's R$ 35,000 fine on Friday evening (19) and returned to the United States. Locate had already left Rio on Monday (15). His fine has not yet been determined by the Judiciary.
Translated by SUGHEY RAMIREZ