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Defendant Dies Before Fraud Case Ruling

By LAMECH JOHNSON Tribune Staff Reporter ljohnson@tribunemedia.net AFTER delaying her ruling in a $100 million attempted fraud case because one of the accused was ill, Magistrate Guillimina Archer handed down a guilty verdict yesterday. However, one for the four defendants, Steve DeGruiter, a 60-year-old Indonesian-American, died four days before the ruling. Last week, prison officials notified the court that DeGruiter was not in a fit condition to appear. The magistrate, having seen the accused in a wheelchair outside, agreed with this advice and ordered that he be taken to hospital. She stood the matter down for two hours, but when court resumed, DeGruiter's attorney Godfrey Pinder said his client had not been to hospital, but was returned to prison instead. After a cell-mate claimed prison officials had not paid attention to DeGruiter's health problems, Magistrate Archer said she would ask Supt Elliston Rahming why his officers disobeyed a direct order from the court to take him to hospital. She then stood the matter down until February 13. Yesterday, the magistrate handed down her verdict to the remaining three accused - Carol Collins, 50, of Massachusetts, and Japanese men Hirofumi Tanabe, 57, and Katsuichi Yufu, 72. They were convicted of attempting to obtain $100 million cash by false pretences from EFG Bank and Trust through a forged JP Morgan cheque on July 8, 2010. They were convicted on two counts of uttering a forged document and another two counts of attempted fraud by false pretences. The three were sentenced to serve 20 months at Her Majesty's Prison on each count. The sentences are to run concurrently. Yufu and Tanabe were represented by Murrio Ducille. Mr Pinder represented Collins and DeGruiter.

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