FROM LEFT: James Ruben Dean and Che Campbell Chase.
By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
A FORMER Bahamas Power & Light (BPL) employee and an attorney were arraigned in Magistrates Court yesterday over allegations they collectively defrauded the electricity provider of close to $2m over a four-month span.
James Ruben Dean, 31, a former fixed assets officer at BPL, and 35-year-old Che Campbell Chase stood before Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt facing 54 and eight fraud related charges respectively.
Dean was charged with 42 counts of fraud by false pretences, 11 counts of falsification of accounts, and one count of conspiracy to commit fraud. Chase meanwhile was charged with seven counts of fraud by false pretences and one count of conspiracy to commit fraud.
It is alleged that between February 8 and May 11 of this year, both Dean and Chase collectively obtained $1,966,163.85 from BPL’s Scotiabank account while at either CIBC FirstCaribbean (FCIB) or Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) on John F Kennedy Drive.
Dean, via his 54 counts, was accused of solely defrauding BPL of $1,752,077.6, while Chase, via the eight counts against him, was specifically accused of defrauding BPL of $214,086.25.
It is further alleged between January 27 and May 15, Dean, while a BPL employee, falsified numerous work order codes on various payment certificates made out to numerous companies totaling $670,056.19, which he was required to review and correct to show that the worker order number affixed was correct.
Both Dean and Chase pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.
The matter was adjourned to March for trial along with co-accused in the matter Reno Bethel, who has been arraigned on a total of 140 fraud related charges on two separate occasions in connection with the alleged theft scheme.
On Monday, Bethel, a former employee of FCIB, was arraigned over nearly 100 additional fraud related charges.
The charges included 35 each of possession of a forged document and uttering a forged document, 18 of fraud by false pretences, two of attempted fraud by false pretences, and three of money laundering.
Monday’s arraignment came just over two months after the 34-year-old was initially arraigned on 47 fraud related charges stemming from the BPL fraud investigation. At the time, Bethel stood before then-Magistrate Andrew Forbes facing 23 counts of fraud by false pretences, 23 counts of receiving and one count of conspiracy to commit fraud by false pretences.
Bethel, Dean and Chase were all wanted by police on the weekend for questioning in connection with the fraud investigations. The RBPF circulated a notice on November 10 requesting the public’s help in locating the three men.
Police later reported that Bethel turned himself into the Central Detective Unit (CDU) shortly before 1pm on Monday, accompanied by his attorney. Dean and Chase surrendered themselves to CDU on Wednesday morning.
The latter two men are represented by attorneys Elliot Lockhart, QC, and Dion Smith.