A small businessman, Gary Stephen was ordered to give 250 hours of community service and in default spend 2 years at the Richmond Hill prison.
The Concord, St. John resident was arrested back in November 2015 and slapped with three indictable charges in connection with a major VISA scam that has been taking place in the country for over 20 years.
The sentence was handed down on him Monday by Trinidadian-born Judge, Justice Shiraf Aziz at the No. 5 High Court in St. George’s.
Stephen, a first-time offender, who was 31 years old when he committed the offence, was initially charged with forgery, possession of a forged document and conspiracy to utter a forged document.
However, the accused who was represented by Attorney-at Law, George Prime pleaded guilty to being in possession of a forged document and the prosecution, which was led by Senior Crown Counsel, Crisan Greenidge, offered no further evidence on the other two charges.
Stephen, who is currently employed with “Photo Max” photo studio, was arrested one week after two other suspects – Lester Smith of the Grenada Football Association (GFA) and basketball coach, Nigel “German” Mc Kie – appeared in court on charges related to the VISA scam.
The State alleged that Stephen forged a document purporting that a certain individual was employed with an undisclosed government ministry in an effort to assist the individual in obtaining a visa to enter the United States.
The allegation against Stephen dated back to February 2013, in which he is believed to have facilitated a female individual with a forged job letter that was presented to the US Embassy in Barbados.
Considering among other things that the accused was a first-time offender, Justice Aziz gave him a serious warning that the court would not tolerate a repeat of this offence on his part.
In another court-related matter, Justice Aziz handed down a suspended 10-month sentence on 23-year old Kadeem Phillip in connection with a maiming incident that occurred back in December 2015, in which one man lost one of his wrists.
The young Labourer from Coast Guard, St. Mark, allegedly used a cutlass to cut off the victim’s wrist, during a dispute over a gambling game that went wrong somewhere in the River Sallee area in the northern parish of St. Patrick.
Phillip has a total of 5 prior convictions recorded against him, including assault on a police officer, resisting arrest, obscene language and causing harm, which were all committed between 2015 and 2017.
The accused was represented by Attorney Prime.
In addition to the suspended sentence, Phillip was ordered to carry out 250 hours of community service, by spending 150 hours teaching at the Richmond Hill Prison and 100 hours teaching at a special needs school.
Justice Aziz, who would be receiving periodic updates on his progress, warned him that if he breaches the conditions at least 3 times, he could be sent to prison to serve a 10-month jail sentence.
Speaking with THE NEW TODAY, Attorney Prime expressed satisfaction that his clients were given the full extent of the law by the sitting judge and basically given an opportunity to continue living their lives freely.
“I am pleased with the sentences and I hope they (Stephen and Phillip) behave themselves,” he remarked.