Two soldiers have been granted $.75 million bail by a Port of Spain Magistrate on multiple charges relating to the alleged fleecing of almost $1.4 million from the Defence Force.
Lance Corporal Jason Richards, 31, and Private Josimar Belgrave, 31, appeared before acting Deputy Chief Magistrate Nanette Forde-John in the Four A Court where they were each granted bail in the sum of $375,000. The charges allege the two inflated their rent allowance over a period between February to July, amounting to $1.4 million.
The two were charged on Monday by police from the Anti Corruption Bureau. They are charged with some 162 offences involving money laundering, fraud, conspiracy and other related offences.
Just before 2.30 pm, Forde-John began reading out the charges against the two who were represented by attorneys Stephen Wilson and Darryl Worrell. The magistrate completed reading out of the charges two hours later. Present in court, were several of the men’s relatives as well as a senior Defence Force officer.
The men were remanded to the Golden Grove Prison in Arouca as their relatives were unable to access bail. They will spend today in jail while their relatives seek to get approval for their bail tomorrow. Richards, a payroll clerk with the TTDF, was slapped with the majority of the charges as he was accused of stealing the money by inflating his and Belgrave’s rent allowance.
He was also charged with wilfully falsifying the TTDF’s human resource records in a bid to cover up the crimes and was given a charge for each time he disposed of the money by transfers from his account to relatives and through withdrawals. Belgrave was only slapped with charges for disposing of the money through various transfers and withdrawals.
Both men were not called upon to plead to the charges which were laid indictably. Prosecutor Insp Winston Dillon objected to bail saying the two could be flight risks and may seek to intimidate witnesses in the case.
Their attorney dismissed the objections, pointing out the two accused men cooperated with the TTDF and police investigators. The case was adjourned to November 14. The two were first detained on July 27.