By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
BERNARD Ross, the project manager for 4M Harbour Island LTD, was convicted of heroin possession in the United States in 1976, one of several run-ins he had with the law.
The Houston Press, an online newspaper, has written critically about his business dealings before he came to The Bahamas. Mr Ross escaped police custody in 1976 as well.
He admitted to the escape according to a court document seen by The Tribune. He wrote: “On February 4, 1974, in Harris County, Texas, I did intentionally escape from the custody of Edward Soptick when I had been charged with the felony offense of unlawful possession of a narcotic drug, to wit, marijuana and had been arrested by the said Edward Soptick by virtue of an alias capias issued upon the order of William M Hatton, judge of the 176th District Court of Harris Country, Texas on a motion to rebuke the probation having been previously granted for said felony offense.”
He was sentenced to five years for heroin possession, five years for violating his probation, and five years for escaping prison. The sentences were to run concurrently. He ultimately spent 11 months in prison.
He has legally changed his name at least twice. He changed his last name from Doelling to Ross in 1986. He filed a petition to change his name from Gary Ross to Bernard Ross in 2016, according to a document seen by The Tribune.
The government gave Mr Ross a work permit that is valid from March 2018 to March 2020. Ben Simmons, a critic of the development, questioned why. “Given the ecological sensitivity of the project,” he said, “someone that has zero experience with marina development and has such a colorful history raises questions about what qualifies him for the job.”
Michael Wiener, developer for the project, defended his hire of Mr Ross yesterday. “The project has not been put into Mr Ross’ hands,” he said. “He is my local representative, but I am involved with the development on a daily basis. I am the only authorised legal representative and surrounded by the best talent in their fields (legal, construction management, general contractor, civil engineer, etc..), all of whom are Bahamian with one exception. I have my family’s money invested in this project and I am committed to its success not only for myself and my family, but the for people of Harbour Island and the wider Bahamian community. Specifically, in reference to the employment of Mr Ross, this was a decision I made in furtherance of my own values, which includes the principles of forgiveness and second chances.”
A government representative said the Bahamas Investment Authority was aware of Mr Ross’ record because Mr Wiener was open about it. The government was satisfied with the developer’s assurances, the source said.