After being deemed a flight risk by the State, multiple-fraud- accused Vicky Boodram was yesterday denied bail by a Port of Spain magistrate before whom she appeared on a charge of escaping lawful custody.
Also appearing in the Eighth Court before Ag Chief Magistrate Maria Busby Earle-Caddle were PCs LeVon Sylvester and Lisa Navarro both charged with aiding and abetting Boodram in her escape from the Women’s Prison, Golden Grove, Arouca, two Mondays ago. Penal resident Roxanne Cudjoe also appeared in court charged indictably for unlawfully harbouring Vicky Boodram at her Lachoos Road, Penal, home with intent to impede Boodram’s arrest.
When Earle-Caddle asked about bail for Cudjoe, prosecutor Cpl Salandy sought an adjournment to allow police to trace the accused to see if she had any existing criminal record or pending court matters. Cudjoe’s attorney Richard Clarke-Wills said she was in custody since last Thursday and had no prior conviction. Cpl Salandy said Cudjoe was charged only 45 minutes before her court appearance and police had not yet taken her fingerprints or done a trace.
Earle-Caddle ruled that Cudjoe be remanded into custody until today when her case would be heard at the Siparia Magistrates Court and the issue of bail would be decided there. Ag Cpl Lawrence Joefield charged Cudjoe.
PCs Sylvester and Navarro then came up before the magistrate. Both are facing two charges: misbehaviour in public office in that they allegedly uttered a forged court note so as to facilitate the unlawful release of Boodram; and (a joint charge with Boodram) dishonestly and fraudulently aiding and procuring Boodram to escape from custody at the Women’s Prison.
Lead attorney Mario Merritt, instructing attorney Melissa Mano and advocate Karunaa Bisramsingh represent both officers. Insp Sheridon Hill of the Professional Standards Bureau is the complainant. Cpl Salandy in not objecting to bail asked the court to consider the seriousness of the charges against the two officers.
Merritt said Sylvester had an unblemished record, lived with his mother and was single. Of Navarro, Merritt said she had no previous matters and voluntarily turned herself in last week. She has three years’ service and is a mother of three. Merritt said Navarro was not a flight risk and was not likely to re-offend. Earle-Caddle granted bail in the sum of $300,000 to each officer.
Boodram said she was not sure where her attorney Richard Isaac was but said, “I can represent myself. I have no problem doing so.” Cpl Salandy said as the charge against Boodram related to her absconding from lawful custody, bail should be denied as there was the likelihood she would attempt to abscond if granted bail.
Earle-Caddle denied bail to Boodram and remanded her into custody. She and the two officers’ case was transferred to the Arima Magistrates Court to be heard next Wednesday. On seeing Boodram’s left wrist bandaged, Earle-Caddle asked her, “Any complaints between the time of your arrest and today?” Boodram replied, “no.”
Earlier yesterday, 115 fraud charge cases resumed in Boodram’s absence at the San Fernando Magistrates Court. The hearing was conducted via video conferencing. On these matters, Boodram is jointly charged with estranged husband Ravi Arjoonsingh. Arjoonsingh who is on bail, was present during the hearing.
Boodram was listed among six prisoners to appear before Magistrate Keriann Byer in the Traffic Court. The accused prisoners were seen from a televised screen inside the court room. When the accused woman’s name was called, prison officer Kali Persad communicating via video, told the magistrate that Boodram was not brought down with the other prisoners and she remains in police custody.
Boodram is charged with allegedly taking more than $1.3 million from over 109 people through fraudulent means and transferred to Arjoonsingh and her company Travel and Ship Ahoy Cruise Ltd. The couple, who owned Boodram’s Travel & Tours and Ship Ahoy Cruises, were jointly charged with 14 counts of demanding money by virtue of a forged document.
The couple was arrested at their 24 Gambal Street, De Gannes Village, Siparia home by Fraud Squad officers. It is alleged that they failed to refund customers money paid for cruise packages that never happened. Boodram and Arjoonsingh were charged by police constable Bassrath, Charles and WPC Bernard. Attorney Elaine Green, appointed by the State as a special prosecutor, told Magistrate Byer that one of the complainants, PC Charles, died a few years ago and would be substituted by Sgt Seecharan in the matter. The case was adjourned to January 2.
(Additional reporting by STACY MOORE)