Corruption case presents logistical problems

| 27/04/2018

(CNS): Twelve defendants who have been charged in an immigration fraud conspiracy may not be able to be tried together, a judge warned Friday when the group of immigration officers and civilians appeared in Grand Court for the first time. The six now-suspended immigration staff and the six people with which they conspired to run an alleged scheme involving the department’s English test were due to answer the various corruption and fraud charges they face but the case was adjourned to give some of the eight defence attorneys involved time to consult.The judge agreed to an adjournment until 11 May but warned all twelve that time would start to run out to secure the full discount on sentences given to defendants who admit offences at the earliest opportunity. He warned that if any of them were intending to plead guilty to get the full available credit on the potential sentences they could face they should do so at their next appearance.

However, the judge also considered the logistics of a trial if all twelve choose to deny the allegations. He said that it would be impossible to attempt to try all of them at the same time and raised the possibility that the group could be split, with the immigration officers appearing in one trial and the civilians in another.

The issue was left in the hands of both the defence teams and the crown to decide how best to tackle the case once the dozen accused men and women had been arraigned on the charges.

The defendants are charged with offences ranging from breach of trust to fraud on government in relation to a scheme that involved the immigration officers and the clients allegedly taking cash to assist Spanish-speaking work-permit applicants to pass the English test despite their inability to speak the language to the requisite standard.

They are immigration officers Marcus Alexander (44) from Prospect, who faces a total of 20 different charges; Kathy Ann Forbes (44) from Frank Sound, who faces six charges; Carlos Jose Robinson (43) from North Side, who is facing nine charges; Sherry Lee McLaughlin (57) from George Town, who is facing four charges; Diane Dey Rankine (57) from George Town, who is facing four charges; and Pheadra Rochell McDonald (43) from Spotts Newlands, who is facing five charges.

The immigration clients in the case are Santo Castro Castillo (45), who is from the Dominican Republic but lives in Spotts Newlands and is facing 14 charges; Katerine Montero Paniagua (27), who is from the Dominican Republic but lives in George Town and is facing two charges; Marlenis Perez Mata (31) from the Dominican Republic, who lives in Prospect and is facing four charges; Angela Suyapa Rodriguez David (38), a Honduran woman from West Bay who is facing just one charge; Mariel Maleno Suriel (33) from the Dominican Republic but lives in George Town, who is facing four charges; and Carolin Nixon Lopez (35) from Honduras, who lives in West Bay and is facing two charges.

Category: Courts, Crime, Local News

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