One woman admits charges in immigration case

| 12/05/2018

(CNS): Just one defendant, Mariel Maleno Suriel (33), charged in the corruption case surrounding the immigration department and an alleged conspiracy relating to the English-language test admitted the charges Friday, when all 12 defendants appeared in Grand Court. It took around an hour and a half for the catalog of charges to be read to the dozen defendants, many of which required the assistance of an interpreter. With the exception of Suriel, a Dominican national living in George Town, all the defendants pleaded not guilty to all charges. 

The crown’s case is based on allegations that a group of Spanish-speaking civilians conspired with immigration officers to pay them around $600 each time for their friends, family and other Spanish speakers who were seeking work permits to pass the test, even though their English-language skills fell short.

The defendants who pleaded not guilty are six immigration officers, who are all suspended from their jobs on full pay, and five civilians. Their trial is expected to last around two months due to the technical difficulties of trying 11 people together, several of whom require interpreters.

The start date has been scheduled for 14 January 2019 but the case may be heard earlier if scheduling clashes for the eight defence attorneys and two crown prosecutors can be addressed. The judge set a case management conference for June but bailed all of the defendants until January.

Suriel is now convicted of four counts of conspiracy to commit fraud on government, which involved paying money to the immigration officers for four of her friends and family to pass the test. The maximum sentence for these offences is 14 years in jail, according to the Anti-corruption Law.

The immigration officers charged in the case are 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.

Along with Suriel, the alleged civilian conspirators include 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; and Carolin Nixon Lopez (35) from Honduras, who lives in West Bay and is facing two charges.

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Category: Courts, Crime, Immigration

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