Former Employees From Labor Dept. Arrested for Syphoning Off Almost $36,000.00
Just 2 months ago, back in November 2020 (see news article) an employee from the Treasury Department was brought before the courts for out-Smarting the government’s payment system known as SMART-STREAM.
In that instance ‘June Belisle’ syphoned-off more than $91,000.00 (Ninety One Thousand Dollars ) from the Treasury Department where she had worked as a ‘First Class Clerk’
That scheme involved ‘Fake’ Teachers that were being paid, when in-fact those persons were not teachers at all.
The official title of the accounting and payment management system is known as “SmartStream | Financial Software & Managed Services”
And unfortunately the system is not that SMART, because all payment systems should have a built-In verification and audit-management feature that should prevent users/employees from syphoning off payments; or it is not being utilize in a manner that prevents users from out-smarting the system.
But, once again the SMART-STREAM system has been out-smarted, by 2 employees of the Labor Department; and collectively the syphoned off $35,787.56 into various bank accounts including their own bank account, the embezzlement occurred during June of 2019 to July of 2020.
Over the weekend (January 16th) 2 more people were arrested for syphoning-off money by tricking the SMART-STREAM System.
The former employees have been identified as (L) Emany Sanchez of Roaring Creek Village and (R) Steve Murray Jr. of Corozal Town. They were charged with 15 counts of theft.
According to reports both Sanchez and Murray fraudulently used the government payment system known as “Smart Stream” and transferred money’s into several bank accounts.
This is the second occasion in 2 months that employees from a government ministry have been arrested for diverting money by fraud VIA the government’s SMART STREAM payment system.
Which at this juncture; The way the software is being utilized‘ it could be code named the DUMB-STREAM Payment System.
Written & Compiled by: digitalBelize,LIVE Staff writer – digitalCaribbean.live Thursday, November 19th. 2020 –firstname.lastname@example.org
by Anita Nembhard-Flowers Belize City, Tues. Jan. 12, 2021
The discovery of a large amount of weed found inside a taxi-man’s tank of his vehicle has led the Belize Police Department to charge a couple from Corozal.
This afternoon, 31-year-old, Jose Maldonado, a taxi-driver of Venezuela Site, Corozal, along with his wife, a dealer of Chan Chen Village, Corozal, was arraigned in the Belize City Magistrate Court on drug related charges after 3 nights in custody.
The couple were read charges before their attorney, Leeroy Banner, when they appeared before Senior Magistrate, Aretha Ford.
The couple were read two counts of drug trafficking, and one count each of cross district movements.
Allegations are that on Saturday, January 9, 2021, in Sandhill Village, they were found in possession of amounts of 6,207.3 grams and 15,132.1 grams of cannabis, which were found in the gas-tank of the vehicle and hidden in the dashboard of the Taxi-Van.
The police claimed that Maldonado and Gongora were found at 11:30 a.m., in Sandhill at a residence which is not their home.
The couple pleaded not guilty to all three charges and Senior Magistrate, Aretha Ford explained to them that due to the quantity of weed they are accused of being in possession of, the court cannot grant them bail.
They were remanded into custody at the Belize Central Prison until March 24, 2021.
She explained to them that they will need to apply for bail through the assistance of their attorney, Leeroy Banner, as the court will not be in a position to grant them bail until after 90 days time.
Police stated that the major marijuana bust occurred on Saturday morning, January 9, 2021 around 11:20 when officers from the Anti-Narcotics Unit spotted a taxi van with Corozal license plates on the side of the Philip Goldson Highway, near Sandhill Village. The vehicle appeared to have broken down on the road, so the officers stopped to offer help. That is when officers approached the vehicle and immediately picked up the strong scent of marijuana. This led to a search inside the vehicle where police found 11 parcels of weed behind the driver’s seat. That driver was identified as 31-year-old Jose Maldonado, a resident of Corozal Town. At the time of the drug bust, he was traveling with his common-law wife, 27-year-old Reina Gongora, a resident of Chan Chen Village.
Because the vehicle was reportedly experiencing problems starting, the cops towed it to the Ladyville station. A mechanic was called in to check on it, and when he dropped the tank on the van, he found another 20 parcels of marijuana inside. The police eventually stripped the vehicle down and found 7 more parcels concealed under the dashboard. The total amount of drugs found in this vehicle amounted to 21.4 kilos or 47 pounds.
Police nabs woman driver with weed in her possession
By Anita Nembhard/Flowers Belize City, Mon. Jan. 11, 2021
A woman who was driving a vehicle, suspected of carrying drugs, landed in police custody where she was found in possession of 121 grams of weed.
She is 27-year-old Nikesha Rhaburn, pf Belize City.
This morning. Rhaburn who was unrepresented appeared before Senior Magistrate, Aretha Ford where she was read a single charge of possession of a controlled drug with intent to supply to another person or persons for the purpose of drug trafficking.
Allegations are that on Friday, January 8, 2021, whilst at Precinct 1 Police Station located on Euphrates Avenue, inside the charge room, she had in her possession,121 grams of cannabis, ( which is a little bit over 1/4 pound )
In court, Rhaburn pleaded not guilty to the drug charge and since there was no objection to bail by the Prosecutor, Corporal Poot, Rhaburn was offered bail in the sum of $1,500.00 plus one surety of the same amount which she was able to meet by 1:00 this afternoon.
Her next court appearance is scheduled for March 9, 2021.
According to police, on Friday, January 8, 2021, at 2:10 p.m., acting on intelligence of a vehicle with suspected cannabis, they followed a car which later came to a stop and parked near the fish bridge on West Collect Canal.
According to the report, PC – Giovanni Moody, PC- Paul Faber and other members of the Covid-19 Task Force intercepted the vehicle and inquired about its occupants..
Inside the vehicle was the driver, identified as Nikesha Rhaburn along with a female sitting in the front passenger seat who was holding a baby and a third female in the back seat.
Police requested the driver to present her driver’s license and other documents and all inside the vehicle was informed of a search to be done inside the vehicle for suspected cannabis.
A search of the vehicle was done and nothing incriminating was found but the vehicle and its occupants were taken to the Euphrates Avenue Police Station, Precinct 1 where during a search of her person, police found a bag of suspected cannabis on Rhaburn, which led to her being charged criminally for drug trafficking.
The Ministry of Infrastructure Development has located and seized another piece of ‘hundred-thousand-dollar’ Heavy equipment from a property reportedly owned or controlled by former UDP Anthony ‘Boots’ Martinez.
In the past 10 years the previous government reportedly purchased millions of dollars worth of heavy duty equipment for road works and infrastructure maintenance. The new administration is attempting to compile an accurate inventory and log of those equipment.
Former Minister of Works ‘Rene Montero’ has issued a written letter/statement indicating that News Reports that a ‘Horse Race Starting Gate’ that was secured by police (see video) was not on his property.
The letter was in response to news reports and a video of a ‘Horse Race Starting Gate’ being towed away with a tractor from a property in Red Creek, in the Cayo District was in the possession of Mr. Montero.
In a letter sent to Belmopan Mayor in late December 2020, the San Ignacio based company “Cayo Steel Works” which built and donated the ‘Starting Gate’ clearly states that the ‘Starting Gate’ was in possession of Mr. Montero.
It is very likely that the ‘Starting-Gate’ was not in his possession as he states in his letter. But a government and a nation challenged with both a COVID-19 Crisis and the resulting financial hardship and a mountain of government assets that have vanished, including vehicles. it is very unlikely that the public will look kindly to those that are doing much better than those struggling to put food on their table.
This most recent incident of locating and returning government equipment; ( bought with the ‘People’s Money’ ) occurred a day after both the government, the DPP and the FIU have secured warrants to search homes for ill-gotten wealth; by former officials of the previous government.
One day after the General Election of November 11th. – police went to various properties on November 12th. and 13th. and secured several pieces of heavy equipment, including a bulldozer and a front end loader from properties reportedly owned by Mr. Montero .
It now seem to be a ‘Dodge’y-Game’ of who is in possession of the ‘Horse Race Starting Gate’
A reader has jokingly said that he knows of several ‘small time weed dealers’ that hides the weed in various locations nearby, and if apprehended, the weed is not in their possession either.
DPP makes application for search warrant to be conducted- but whose home is next on the list to be searched is the question?
by Anita Nembhard-Flowers Belize City, Tues. Jan. 4, 2021
Yesterday the home of former Lands Commissioner, Wilbert Vallejos in Patchakan Village in the Corozal District was searched and police found a huge some of money, $69,800 Belize dollars in cash along with $1,170 US dollars and $10,000 in pesos.
Those revelations are just the beginning of an effort to put a ‘COG’ in the massive and widespread wheels of corruption in Belize.
Some big shot premises will be invaded by this new administration by the end of this week and because the media was barred out of that “confidential” application made in court today; the identity of those persons are unknown.
The application was made this afternoon at around 1:30 by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) herself, Cheryl Lynn Vidal.
Vidal’s first appearance was at 1:00pm, when she appeared before Senior Magistrate, Aretha Ford in courtroom #2 she made the announcement for the reason of her presence in court.
Senior Magistrate, Ford in open court asked her if she had filed the application yet but according to the DPP she had not done so and left to return in 15 minutes to make her application.
After some 20 minutes she returned, and the only media personnel present in courtroom was asked to leave.
The police court orderly, informed the court reporter that she was not allowed to witness this matter and was escorted out of court.
The DPP, and two other personnel from that office, which included her driver and a bodyguard along with the Senior Magistrate, Aretha Ford were the only person allow in the court room.
Some 15 minutes later the application concluded, the DPP who tried hard to avoid our cameras, stepped out the front entrance and when she saw the camera chose to use the side front door entrance on TRESURY LANE where she walked back to her office located a stone throw away from the court room.
Whose home is next on the list to be searched? – Our attempts to get that question answered was futile outside the courtroom.
Freelance Court Reporter, Anita Nembhard approached Senior Magistrate, Aretha Ford in an attempt to gather information in the tight lip application but when asked if she could be provided with any information on the application that was just made before her, she was told, “No.”
So she inquire if that’s why she was put out of court so a abruptly. And according to Senior Magistrate, Ford, ” Any application like this is very confidential.”
Getting no information I inquire from a former MAGISTERIAL appointee, if the action taken by the court was justified to bar the media out of the court in such a manner.
That person who was once an attorney told us, she is not certain as to the why today I was put out of court, but there are several reasons why the media would not be allowed in court on matters for example, cases related to FIU matters or those involving minors.
And while the nature of Vidal’s application are uncertain. We understand it has to do with a search yet to be executed at someone’s house.
Gregorio Bowen was being held at the Queens Street Police Station in Belize City, whilst a investigation was being done based on a charge of wounding.
Depending on the severity of the harm he was accused to have done, he would have been released after the standard 48-72 hours that all detained persons have to wait after a charge is levied against them.
But Mr. Bowen was held in a separate cell, alone, and shortly after 2 am Monday morning January 4th. the lifeless body of the 41 year old was discovered by a police officer doing the standard walk through of the holding cells at the station.
He was found naked; hanging from the gate of the holding-cell. He reportedly used his pants as a noose and hung himself inside the holding-cell. His lifeless body was taken to the Hospital ( KHMH ), where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
At a press-briefing later Monday Afternoon the Commissioner of Police indicated that Mr. Bowen was not drunk, nor was he thought to be a risk to himself or others, and that there are no indications of mental illness.
During a press briefing the COMPOL said – “We do have our cell block policies that speak to the fact that officers must make hourly checks on the prisoners. In situations where the prisoner is under the influence or demonstrates the potential for harming him or herself then checks must be made every half an hour. In this case Mr. Bowen was not drunk and was not one who displayed signs of wanting to injure himself and others and so the checks were made hourly. We have checked the diary at the station and it shows that the officers did make the hourly checks at the cell blocks. It would appear that it was after the 2 am check was made that he eventually did what he did.”
A full investigation which will include the heads of division at that station and the professional standards branch is underway to determine why Mr. Bowen committed suicide.
3 American Writers are charged for not wearing face mask whilst on San Pedro, Ambergris Caye island, New Years Day!
by Anita Nembhard-Flowers Belize City, Mon. Jan. 4, 2021
It is extremely unusual for Americans to be hauled into court for such infractions, and many Americans that are not wearing face-masks in public are usually given a warning. Which made us wonder if other Americans were involved that caused the detention of these 3 writers.
The infraction happened on New Years Day on the island of San Pedro, Ambergris Caye.
Three American writer tourist who were not wearing masks whilst on San Pedro on New Years day were charged in court today for failure to wear a mask.
They are 52 year old Jennifer Heckman, a Writer, along with 54 year old Jeffery Heckman, a Writer/Construction Worker along with 58-Jeffery Garcea , all residents of the United States of American.
The trio appeared this morning before Senior Magistrate. Aretha Ford in Court #2 due to the absence of a magistrate on the island.
They were all charged with failure to wear a face mask or other face clothing.
They were caught on. New years Day, January 1, 2021 on Sea Grape Drive, San Pedro.
In court, the trio pleaded guilty and were fine the new mandatory fine of $500 recently implemented for any SOE offenses.
They were order to pay the fine forthwith in default 5 months imprisonment. By 12 noon, the trio was able to pay their fine and they were free to go.
4 fіѕhеrmеn frоm Dаngrіgа have bееn rероrtеd mіѕѕіng аt ѕеа. They are Оmаr ‘Wаk’ Тhоmрѕоn, Јеffrеу Gоmеz, Lеоn Јоѕерh Dіаz and Вrеntоn ‘Вrаkа’ Вrасkеtt.
Latest report is that they left Dangriga town оn Frіdау 11th Dесеmbеr 2020 еn rоutе tо Southern Lоng Сауе, an island about 10 nautical miles north-east of Dangriga Town.
It is not known if the area the men frequent when fishing can receive cell-phone communication while at sea, but the family of the 4 men say that calls to their cell-phones go straight to voicemail.
On Thursday December 17th. The Belize Coast Guard joined in the search, but thus far there is no trace of anything to indicate foul-play or an accident.
Southern Long Caye is approximately 10 nautical miles north-east of Dangriga Town and according the the wife of one of the the fishermen, she recieved a phone call from the common-law husband on December 11th,, she said that he told her that they had arrived at their destination.
On Tuesday December 29th. ASP Joseph Myvette of the Belize Police Dept. said that the search by the Belize Coast Guard and the Police Dept. continues but has been reduced after several days of searching.
To date ( December 30th.) there have been no sign or findings of anything to indicate that the men or their boat (a skiff) is in the area where they presumably went. ( Sothern Long Caye )
Police woman Michelle Brown 27, is acquitted of Murder of 37-year old Fareed Ahmad
by: Anita Nembhard- Flowers Belize City, Fri. Dec. 18, 2020
After a 26 days of trial, and over 20 witnesses called to the stand by the crown, today at 11:00, Justice Colin Williams after 2 hours of deliberation handing down a decision, told Brown to stand up, and then said to her, – “Ahmad is dead. He died from blunt force trauma and underlining force as a consequence of gunshots injury, as at the time injury inflicted, while there was intent to commit grievous harm, intent to kill was not there., Someone shot Ahmad. – The Crown did not satisfy me that it was you, – not guilty.”
His decision came after Justice Williams laid out all the evidence the crown had brought before him, and testimony from over 20 more witnesses that took the stand, and a visit to the locus on Thursday, December 10.
Justice Colin Williams at 9:15 repeated the evidence of the case for the crown, that early on the morning of December 28, 2017, at around 12:29 a.m, Ahmad’s BMW- SUV collided into a flat bed truck at Mile 16.
The first of two people extracted by members of the community was Ahmad who was removed from his extensively damaged front door and because of this, Brown had to be removed from the drivers side.
Ahmad had a gunshot injury and was bleeding from the head. He asked for water and was told to lie down and not to walk. Both Brown and Ahmad still alive were rushed to the KHMH in an ambulance, and Ahmad later died from his injuries.
Doctor Lloyd Ken, the pathologist said Ahmad had two gunshot injuries that entered from the right and exit the left with a wound to the forehead.
Doctor Ken concluded that Ahmad’s fractured skull injury happened on impact, and led to the collection of blood with soft tissue similar to a bruise and once the brain started to swell, the pressure caused other parts of the body to shut down and it was at this time, that he was at a very critical point which led to Ahmad’s death which was caused by acute vascular injury as as result of blunt force trauma to head due to motor vehicle Collison as a consequence of gunshot wound to the face.
On December 29, 2017, Brown was arrested and charged with Ahmad’s murder. According to Justice Williams, the crown used pieces of evidence from here and there to piece together her case.
Brown was represented by Simeon Sampson and Anthony Sylvester was of the view that the evidence of the crown is not proof enough for Brown to be found guilty.
But before he could determine Browns guilt, Justice Williams also looked at elements of murder that crown must prove; being, that one- Ahmad’s is dead, and this he said was proven, 2- his death was caused by harm, which was proven, 3- it was brown who inflicted those harm, – 4- at the time the harm was inflicted Brown did so with specific intent to kill- this too, he said was not proven by the crown against Brown- 5-that when Brown did so, the act was unlawful, this too was not proven against Brown by the crown during the trial, noted Justice Williams as he spoke of the crown’s case.
Justice Williams also looked at inconsistency in the case.
While he noted that there were inconsistencies, it was necessary to evaluate testimonies of witnesses and how their evidence connect and compare with other evidence.
In doing so, Justice Williams highlighted some inconsistencies like in the testimonies of Corporal Abner Itsa and PC Oscar Itch.
These are two police officers who worked along with Brown on the SAT , Special Assignment Team the night of Ahmad’s shooting turn murder which the crown relied on for circumstantial evidences to link Brown to being Ahmad’s shooter.
The inconsistency of what transpired at the Racoon Street Police Station where CPL. Itsa said he remain in the mobile when Brown exited quickly and by the time he got into the building Brown had left and was nowhere to be found and she took the issue 9mm., gun she had signed out for, that by protocols was to be sign in back said Cpl. Itsa While the collaborating officer Itch said Cpl. Itsa did not remain in the vehicle he walked inside behind the team.
In Justice William’s view, some inconsistency can be relatively mended.
Other inconsistencies came where witnesses for the crown, specifically police witness who testified of Browns behavior on the night of the crash and one witness claiming Brown was crying, another said she was asked what was wrong but she denied having any problems. And the biggest inconsistency of the crown case as it related the Cpl. Itsa was his testimony where he gave the wrong brand name of the gun, as the firearm issued to Brown on the night of the murder. The officer testified in court it was a 9mm pistol Beretta brand with serial number. . . .
But in cross examination by the defense he later admitted he thought he had said Bersa as he meant to say Beretta. It was not until the recording of the trial was replayed in court for the officer, that he admitted that it was an error on his part.
The gun in question was later found inside the panel of Ahmad’s BMW a day later by the Fire Service Department Supervisor tasked to dismantle the vehicle after the crash.
The question of who truly had possession of that gun which the crown circumstantial evidence pointed to Brown as the holder was not proven in the either since the Cpl Supervisor who claim she signed out for it by writing on a log sheet, a log sheet he fail to attach to his report hence the crown had no evidence to show in court linking Brown to signing for the gun and in her defense, Brown did mot admit or deny having any gun assigned to her on the night of Ahmad’s shooting.
Justice Williams also highligted why he rejected some and portions of the crown witnesses statements exmaple that of Scenes of Crime Techician, Sheradine Peters who testify that Ahmads BMW had arrived at the Police Station on December 29, 2017 Where she process it after the gun was found. But her date was wrong and the date of her evidence had to have been December 28, 2017, so he rejected her testimony as being incompetent since the Fire service Personnel had testified to dismantling the BMW on December 27, 2017 where a gun was found in the panel of the front passenger side of the vehicle.
Justice Williams also told Brown in court as he looked back at all sides, that, “There is some portion of Brown’s case that are not reliable. I did not believe she was heading to Belmopan when she got into Fareed’s vehicle and he did not believe it was a mere coincident she ended up in his vehicle.
He also did not believe Brown’s version of events when she told the court that a Youngman just came into the vehicle. And he sure did not believe that a 3rd person came into the vehicle by shear coincidence.
He was of the view that if there was a 3rd person in the vehicle, the person must have been there before the vehicle move off or they went to pick up the person – but he as the judge is not there to speculate, – Justice Williams said.
Judge Williams also highlighted the fact that a number of crucial evidence spoken about by crown witnesses about exhibits that was taken to the National Forensic Science service which never made it into court and went missing from the exhibits.
He also highlighted the evidence of blood samples, fragments taken from the gun, swabbing of the nozzle of the gun taken in for testing and Nothing else was heard of those evidence during the trial.
The Judge believes that conclusive evidence could have been provided to say whether the deceased blood was found on it, – but nothing else was said about them in court.
About half way in the judge’s decision, he noted to the court, “Even if Brown told a lie or many lies, it is not evidence of guilt but lie or lies was to boost her defense, but because she testified on oath her testimony had to be given the same weight as that of the crown’s witnesses who testified against her.
Brown who gave sworn testimony on oath said she did not shot Fareed Ahmad and pointed the blame on Cpl. Elmer Nah 2ho she claim got into the vehicle after Ahmad made a U-turn on the road heading back to Belize city and when the vehicle came to a sudden stop for a few seconds, a man whose voice she recognized placed a gun to her head and told her not to move so she did not.
The man then cocked the gun, turn it on Ahmad and shot him then jumped out of the vehicle. Seconds later when Ahmad released his hands off the steering wheels, they crashed.
Brown denied all 3 allegations made by crown against her. But as the judge said, she had nothing to prove, it was the crown’s job to prove the guilt of the accused.
Brown had been on remand from December 29, 2017 the day she was released from hospital and charged with Ahmad’s murder, which is exactly 2 years and 11 months.