Cruise Ship Passenger Faces Jail In Cayman Islands For Gun In Luggage

Journal Sentinel:- Carol Ann McNeill-Skorupan’s ship had anchored at George Town in the Cayman Islands last month, the first stop on a nine-night Caribbean cruise that departed from Florida.

Once in port on Feb. 3, the 68-year-old Madison woman got a notice that her third piece of luggage, which hadn’t arrived with her flight from Wisconsin to Fort Lauderdale, had been found and flown down to the George Town airport.

But when McNeill-Skorupan went to pick it up, her vacation turned into an expensive lesson in how American gun rights don’t always travel well, and that could land her in a foreign prison.

Inside that third bag, X-rays showed, was a .25 caliber handgun and six rounds of ammunition. Despite her claim of a Wisconsin concealed carry permit, in the Caymans, it was considered illegal possession of an unlicensed firearm.

Conviction carries a mandatory seven-year prison term upon a guilty plea, 10 years if convicted at trial — unless the court finds “exceptional circumstances.”

She’s among dozens of Americans caught up in the Cayman Islands’ strict enforcement of gun laws, but one of only two facing trial and the risk of significant incarceration.

“They do what they want to there,” said the other one, Florida business owner David Meadors  “The biggest problem isn’t the fines, but arbitrarily ruining peoples’ lives.”

According to reports in the Cayman Compass, the Cayman Islands’ main news outlet, McNeill-Skorupan spent three nights in jail before her release on $10,000 bail and the surrender of her passport. She was living in a hotel with an evening curfew while awaiting trial next month.

McNeill-Skorupan didn’t ask that Delta forward the bag, her lawyer told the court, and had directed that it should be left with a friend in Florida, Meadors said.

A judge later granted her permission to travel, and Meadors said she’s back in Madison. He said he has been tracking her case because it could impact his own and has been in touch with people who have spoken with her.

Meadors, 54, who is in Florida awaiting a hearing in May, is in bigger trouble. He has already pleaded guilty to bringing his 9mm handgun to the Caymans, where he was building a multi-million dollar retirement home, but was allowed to return to Florida for medical treatment.

He thinks McNeill-Skorupan’s best option is to just skip her trial, but that could impact her professional licenses.

“She’d lose her bail and could probably never go back to the Caymans,” Meadors said. He has more than $600,000 in bail and collateral at stake, and he said, Cayman officials have mentioned extradition if he doesn’t return.

It’s unclear if McNeill-Skorupan was planning to bring the gun on her cruise since Celebrity Cruises bans passengers from taking firearms on board.

McNeill-Skorupan is a certified public accountant and active in the Dane County Republican Party.  She did not return a voice mail or Facebook message, and her Cayman attorney did not return an email or phone message.