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Men on multiple charges of fraud, conspiracy and deception

Men on multiple charges of fraud, conspiracy and deception

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Two men on multiple charges of fraud, conspiracy and deception against the Government are likely to be further charged, as a team of investigators has been assigned to unearth the magnitude of their alleged misdeeds.

Derville Thomas and Learie Johnson were formally charged before the Serious Offences Court yesterday, but were not required to plead, as the charges were laid indictably against them. The two are alleged to have been stealing public assistance money over an extended period of time.

Therefore, Thomas, a 42-year-old resident of Bridgetown, Biabou, was charged with nine counts of making a knowingly false instrument so as to induce Learie Johnson of Lowmans Windward to accept them as genuine, in order to commit an act so as to prejudice the Government. He is also charged with using these false instruments, which were in the names of Sylvia Roberts, Geoffrey Lavia, Camellia James, Clifford Huggins, Bernice Cordice, Thaddeus Baptiste, Irma Nanton, Calvin Lavia and John Lavia, all of whom are deceased.

All charges laid against Thomas yesterday were said to have been committed on February 7, 2018 at Owia.

He is further charged that he did conspire with Johnson and others and stole $2,725 in cash, the property of the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).

Johnson was charged with conspiring with Thomas and others to steal $2,725, the property of the Government of SVG on February 7 at Owia.

Jointly, they are charged with stealing $2,475, the property of the government of SVG, and through deception dishonestly obtaining $250, the property of Irma Nanton (deceased), with intent to permanently deprive.

Prosecutor Adolphus Delplesche rose to object to bail, saying that the chief investigator of the team of investigators “has indicated to me that these investigations stretch far and wide, in terms of time and people; it also touches and concerns high and low.”

The prosecutor stated that the charges were just the tip of the iceberg.

“The prosecution is seeking a little time…we do not intend for the accused persons to be kept in custody indefinitely, ad infinitum,” he stated, as he requested that the defendants first be remanded for seven days. Witnesses could be interfered with if the prisoners were released and the course of justice thwarted, he said.

Defense attorney for the two, Israel Bruce, putting his pen down and rising suddenly, stated that he “strenuously” objected this request. He stated this was on the basis that there was a way things should be done in court, the cart not going before the horse, but the horse before the cart.

“You cannot come to the court and say that the investigations are going far and wide, high and low, and because they’re going far and wide, high and low, let them stay whilst we go far and wide, high and low to determine what charges to put on them. That can’t be right,” Bruce intoned.

The accused being likely to interfere with witnesses can only be presented if it can be shown that in the past the person has made a “serious attempt to reach Witness A or Witness B,” the lawyer said. “You can’t have these people denied their freedom whilst you go fishing to find out if like offences were committed far and wide, high and low,” he stated, while asking for bail for his clients.

Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne-Matthias held that although she does not usually like people to be held on remand whilst investigations continue, she found merit in what the prosecution was asking and would not consider bail. Bail will be considered again on February 19.(KR)

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