There are nearly 140,000 Guyanese in New York, making them the fifth-largest immigrant group in the city. And like any other group, it has its own dramas and scandals. In April, the Guyanese-American real estate mogul Edul Ahmad was convicted of mortgage fraud and sentenced to two years in prison. He had cooperated with authorities in the conviction of the New York Senate leader, John L. Sampson, a Democrat from Brooklyn who has Guyanese heritage.
“In Queens, you find a replica of the bribery and corruption from Guyana,” said Aubrey Bonnett, a professor at the State University of New York at Westbury who has written about the West Indian diaspora. “It’s a miniature part of the subculture.”
Since gaining independence from Britain in 1966, Guyana has been politically divided between two major ethnic groups, African and Indian. Mr. Bisram and his family are of Indian heritage; the current ruling party in Guyana is mostly made up of Afro-Guyanese leaders.
More than 80,000 Guyanese, mostly Indo-Guyanese from the Berbice farming region, now live in the contiguous Queens neighborhoods of South Ozone Park, Richmond Hill and Jamaica, according to the city’s Department of Planning.
Mr. Narinedatt and Mr. Bisram went to the same school in Berbice. At an early age, Mr. Bisram’s parents separated. He moved in with his grandmother, and his aunts also took care of him.
“We were all poor,” said Dawanti Pariag, one of Mr. Bisram’s aunts, outside the extradition hearing last month. “He know what’s hardship, because he didn’t grow up with parents since he was 3 and 4.”
At 16, after finishing high school in Guyana, he joined his father in Queens, she said.
Mr. Bisram later went to the Allen School of Health and Sciences in Jamaica, Queens, for a nursing degree to be a home health aide, his lawyer said. He did not go to Hunter College, as was stated on the Marcus Brian Bisram Foundation website, which recently was deactivated.
How a 20-something home health aide came to be the wealthy head of a philanthropic foundation is a bit of a mystery, even among those closest to Mr. Bisram. According to Mario F. Gallucci, Mr. Bisram’s New York lawyer, Mr. Bisram met a benefactor whom Mr. Bisram declined to name. Even Mr. Gallucci said he does not know whether the benefactor is alive or dead.
“He receives a salary, and as part of his salary, which is very generous, he has taken it upon himself to donate to causes he sees fit in Guyana,” Mr. Gallucci said. “His benefactor, or his employer, agrees with his decisions where he donates the money.”
His aunt, Ms. Pariag, said that she never asked him where his money came from, but considered her nephew to be “blessed.”
Mr. Bisram started his foundation in the spring of 2016, and he pledged to donate $1 million per year (the equivalent of $200 million Guyanese dollars) to organizations in his country.
There, the Bisram Foundation has built orphanages and repaired the traffic office of a local police precinct; it donated to community policing groups, blood banks, a cricket team and laid-off sugar workers; it has given backpacks to poor students. Because of his wealth, Mr. Gallucci said, Mr. Bisram has “dignitary status,” and is given a security detail by the local police when in Guyana.
The fateful party of last Oct. 31 coincided with Mr. Bisram’s philanthropic mission to Guyana, and community police officers — to whom Mr. Bisram was donating — were among the guests. Mr. Narinedatt was living in No. 70 Village, awaiting immigration documents that would allow him to join his wife in New York. He was one of about 150 people at the party, according to Mr. Bisram’s Guyanese lawyer. The entire village was invited.
According to the police report, one witness, a 16-year-old cousin of Mr. Bisram, saw Mr. Narinedatt drinking rum along with other partygoers. When Mr. Narinedatt went to urinate in the backyard, the witness said, Mr. Bisram fondled his genitals. Mr. Narinedatt slapped him in the face five times. The witness, according to a police report, then heard Mr. Bisram issue the order to kill Mr. Narinedatt, using the local slang: “You all done he.”
Guyana police reports included two witnesses who saw five men beating Mr. Narinedatt; one witness saw the men throw Mr. Narinedatt into the trunk of a car. The victim was found on the side of the No. 70 Village Public Road after 4 a.m. on Nov. 1. At first, the police considered his death a result of a hit and run. But Mr. Narinedatt’s relatives said they suspected that it was staged.
By then, Mr. Bisram was in New York, his return flight “preplanned,” according to his lawyer.
Frustrated by the slow response from local authorities, Mr. Narinedatt’s uncle Abdool Rizam Shafeek, said he went to officials in the capital of Georgetown two weeks later.
“You had a lot of covering up here, in Berbice, a lot of covering up from the first set of police who handled the matter,” Mr. Shafeek said in an interview in Guyana. “At one time they were claiming it was an accident, but when you look at the body, it wasn’t an accident.”
Mr. Narinedatt, according to the coroner’s report provided to the Guyanese police, had multiple skull fractures, a fractured spine and arm, along with a ruptured spleen and liver and pulmonary contusions. He also had alcohol in his system.
In the months after the party, and then after Guyana issued a warrant for his arrest, Mr. Bisram lived a very public life, giving winter coats to the needy, accepting humanitarian awards and socializing with friends at Queens restaurants and bars.
On the afternoon of July 4, Mr. Bisram was preparing for a holiday party at his five-bedroom, three-story beach house in the Rockaways that he purchased in 2015. His aunt, Ms. Pariag, recalled that she was making Guyanese “cookup rice,” when U.S. marshals came to arrest him.
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