By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
A KERZNER International employee yesterday owned up to a number of fraud crimes he committed in the hope of remaining in the Bahamas to live and work.
David Fenton, a Jamaican, was told by Magistrate Samuel McKinney that he was “quite foolish” in using a falsified affidavit to obtain a search card from the Registrar General Department and a NIB card from the National Insurance Board in August .
“These are serious offences and this court’s jurisdiction for imposing a custodial sentence goes up to seven years,” the magistrate told the 28-year-old first-time-offender.
“For an intelligent person, what you did was quite foolish. I don’t know how you thought you would not get caught if you’re working for someone and you’re going to return with fraudulent documents for a work permit.
“You would have been sent to prison outright, but I will fine you $1,500 for the charge of conspiracy to commit fraud by false pretences or one-year imprisonment. I also fine you $500 for each of the six remaining charges or six months’ imprisonment. That’s a total of $4,500 and all sentences to run concurrently.
“You ought to be fined $5,000 on each one,” the magistrate added, further noting that “upon payment, you’ll be released to Immigration, who will make a determination of your status.”
Fenton’s alleged conspirators, 53-year-old Vincent Hepburn and 51-year-old Carolyn Brown, return to Magistrates Court on February 17, 2015, for trial.
Fenton, Hepburn and Brown were charged with conspiracy to commit fraud by false pretences, allegedly committed between August 10 and 12.
Hepburn and Brown, employees of the Registrar General’s Department, were further charged with two counts of abetment to commit fraud by false pretences at the same time as they are alleged to have purposely aided Fenton in obtaining an NIB card and a search card.
The latter is an official document given in place of a birth certificate when a person’s birth is not registered within three years of infancy.
Fenton was separately charged with two counts each of possession of a false document, uttering a false document and fraud by false pretences.
On August 12, Fenton saw and spoke with an internal auditor at NIB to whom he presented a document, an application and a new NIB card. He also presented an affidavit, which indicated that his name was David Brown.
The affidavit was, according to Fenton, sworn by a person purporting to be his mother. The auditor, upon further inspection of the document, was of the view that the information being presented was not genuine.
The auditor’s investigation led him to the Department of Immigration and he discovered that Fenton had applied for permanent residency, was granted multiple work permits and a spousal permit.
The information was handed over to police for further investigation, which ultimately led to Fenton’s arrest and subsequent charges.
Myles Laroda, lawyer for Fenton, told Magistrate McKinney that his client’s situation was a “very unique situation, but a very sad one as well”.
“He’s been in the country for the past 18 years from when he was 10 years old and attended H O Nash, C C Sweeting and BTVI, all of which he graduated from,” the lawyer said.
“He’s been employed at Atlantis for five years,” the lawyer added, further noting that it was important to note that his employers “would have known of his status as David Fenton.”
The lawyer said Fenton’s employers had applied for a work permit for his client, notwithstanding that such applications were usually reserved for executives.
This, he said, gave credence to the Food and Beverage Manager’s hard work and the company’s recognition of his talent and hard work.
“The defendant is 28, pleaded guilty, is contrite and has not wasted the court’s time,” said Mr Laroda.
Mr Laroda went on to inform the magistrate that his client had a number of papers before the Immigration Department and that this matter “came about due to the spousal permit”.
“His employer applied for him his work permit while the Department of Immigration processed his permanent residency application,” the court was told.
“I’m advised that his situation was as a result of haste. Atlantis applied for him but took him off the work roster until it was approved, hence, this idea to then fasten the process and get placed back on the roster. He accepts responsibility for his part,” the lawyer added.
“In the circumstances, I’d beg the court to be lenient on him,” Laroda concluded.
“How is that supposed to work? Taking fraudulent documents to your employer and having them apply for him?” Magistrate McKinney said.
“He made a bad judgment,” Laroda replied.
Hepburn and Brown, who were each granted $5,000 bail, have retained Bradley Cooper and Ian Cargill to defend them at their trial.