Pennsylvania Dad Detained In Turks And Caicos Receives Suspended 52-Week Sentence, Expected To Be Released

PROVIDENCIALES, TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS - SEPTEMBER 25: View of Beaches TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS Resort Villages & Spa on September 26, 2016 in Providenciales, Turks And Caicos Islands. (Photo by Dimitrios KambourisGetty Images for Beaches Turks & Caicos)
(Photo by Dimitrios KambourisGetty Images for Beaches Turks & Caicos)

OAN’s James Meyers
2:11 PM – Friday, May 24, 2024

A Turks and Caicos judge on Friday morning issued a suspended 52-week sentence to Bryan Hagerich, who is a Pennsylvania dad of two and former pro baseball player who pleaded guilty to possessing ammunition on the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI). 


The 39-year-old is one of five Americans who was arrested. The group has been detained on the islands since February for having stray ammunition in their luggage, which is a crime punishable by up to 12 years in TCI. 

The father of two is expected to be released and will have to pay a fine of $6,700. 

The sentencing comes down as four other Americans including Ryan Watson, 40, of Oklahoma, Sharitta Grier, 45, of Florida; Tyler Wenrich, 31, of Virginia; and Michael Lee Evans, 72, of Texas are still awaiting their fate.

“He will be released shortly,” Hagerich’s spokesperson, Jonathan Franks, said in a Friday post on X (Twitter).

“From the day that I was arrested, the end goal was to get off the island and go home to my family. To think that that day is potentially tomorrow, it’s every emotion under the sun,” Hagerich told Fox News Digital on Thursday. “There’s obviously a lot of anxiety. There [are] a lot of prayers … from families, friends, folks we don’t even know across the world right now, to hopefully bring that outcome.”

Hagerich had pleaded guilty to possessing 20 rifle rounds, according to the Turks and Caicos government. He was arrested in February when the ammunition was found in his checked bag, and he said he spent eight nights in jail before he was released on bail. 

“Some of the darkest, hardest times of my life, quite frankly,” Hagerich told CBS News last month.

Hagerich, Watson and Grier have been living in the same condo as they await their respective fates on the island. 

“We’re all a support system for one another. You know, it’s a big family,” Watson said. He later described their trio as being “like two brothers and a sister.”

While each case is slightly different, all five were arrested while traveling home after security detected ammunition in their luggage. 

Hagerich had stray ammo in his luggage from a previous hunting trip in one of the compartments of a large suitcase his family had loaded their belongings into for a family vacation. 

“I never in a million years thought I’d be in Turks and Caicos for over 100 days for a simple mistake,” Hagerich said.

Watson also had stray ammo left over from a hunting trip, in the lining of his carry-on bag. 

Grier had stray bullets in the lining of her bag after she recently purchased a firearm for her own protection.

She told Fox News Digital that her brother owns a store that she sometimes closes at night and wanted a firearm in case of an emergency. 

“No intention to hurt anybody or anything. … I’m afraid of it myself. It’s nothing to play around with,” Grier said, adding that she “had no other reason” to own a gun other than for her own protection while closing her brother’s store.

Wenrich told Fox News Digital as well that he had no intention of bringing bullets on the islands and had no idea that he had two bullets in his travel backpack until airport security found them. 

Republican Pennsylvania Representative (R-Penn.) Guy Reschenthaler told Fox News Digital on Thursday that he is pushing the State Department to issue a no-travel order to TCI, which would prevent cruises from docking on the islands and also prevent people from purchasing traveler’s insurance. 

“Their economy is overwhelmingly based on tourism, well over 70%. And of the tourists, 86% are American,” Reschenthaler said. “So, all we have to do is issue a do-not-travel [order] and overnight crash their economy. And hopefully we can get the Americans released, and we would force Turks and Caicos to change this law.”

Reschenthaler also said that the “draconian” law treats Americans with stray ammo “as if they’re some kind of weapons smuggler or gun runner.”

“None of them had a firearm, by the way. They had these rounds of ammunition just left haphazardly and accidentally in carry-on duffel bags,” the congressman noted.

On Monday, a bipartisan congressional delegation visited TCI on Monday to ask government leaders to release the Americans detained for having stray ammo in their bags.

“The U.S. delegation raised five cases of U.S. nationals currently before the courts, concern for their well-being and clarification on the legal process,” the TCI Governor’s Office said in a Monday statement. “In order to maintain the integrity of the legal process, the Governor confirmed it would not be appropriate to facilitate the delegation’s request to meet with the Chief Justice.”

The governor and the premier also said “they cannot intervene nor comment on ongoing legal cases before the courts,” the statement continued.

“They explained that the Turks and Caicos Islands have clear laws prohibiting the possession of firearms and/or ammunition and strict penalties are in place to serve and protect all who reside and visit the Turks and Caicos Islands.”

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