Owner of Seaport Restaurant and Bar on the Kirani James Boulevard, Roger Lewis was found guilty of Fraud, Uttering and Obtaining property illegally last Wednesday after a jury trial at the No. 2 High Court in St. George’s.
The presiding judge, Madam Justice Paula Gilford remanded Lewis, the son of late popular mechanic, Allan Lewis to the Richmond Hill prison until sentence sometime in February.
Investigations into the young Lewis began in 2012 by the Financial Intelligence unit (FIU) after he was accused of defrauding his siblings of right to his father’s estate on the grounds that he allegedly forged the will of the deceased Allan.
Several other brothers and sisters claimed that their brother paid them a certain sum of money and ended up as the owner of the multi-million dollar estate left behind by the father.
One of the brothers told this newspaper that he accepted EC$15, 000.00 from Roger but was forced to act against his own brother when one of the persons whose name appeared on the Will as a Witness said he knew nothing about the document.
He spoke of reporting the matter to the FIU in order to probe the alleged Will of the father.
After hearing the Preliminary Inquiry into the charges against Roger, Magistrate Tamara Gill committed him to stand trial at the High Court because she determined there were sufficient evidence presented against him.
The case against the suspect began on November 8, 2014 and was completed on January 14, 2015.
Speaking with reporters last week Thursday, Crown Counsel in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Howard Pinnock indicated that Roger was found guilty by the jurors after a trial that spanned several weeks.
“He was indicted for Forgery, Uttering and obtaining property on the forged will. The trial concluded on Wednesday and he was found guilty by the Jury on all three counts. His (Legal) Counsel asked for a Social Inquiry report or a Probation report and sentencing is set for sometime in February”, Pinnock said.
“…The judge did indicate that the Probation report ought to be presented on or before the 14th of February and having received that report then a definitive date will be set for sentencing,” he added.
Pinnock also made some passing remarks about civil proceeding that were instituted by some of the other brothers against Roger in connection with the father’s property.
He noted that the civil proceedings were stayed by the High Court pending the outcome of the criminal case and the verdict delivered by the jurors in the criminal matter will definitely be affected.
“My understanding is that there were civil proceedings in relation to the property but the finding of the criminal court is that the will was forged so it would have some impact. I’m not a civil lawyer, I don’t have any expertise on civil law… a lawyer were retained by the family to deal with the civil issues and other issues, so they will now do what they have to do but certainly the ruling of the criminal court is that the will of Allan Lewis was forged and that it is the accused who forged it”, he told reporters.
“That is the substance of the verdict, that he is the one who forged it, the one who uttered it, meaning that he presented the said will to Mr (Anselm) Clouden’s Chambers to be probated and furthermore he obtained properties as a result – that is the finding of the jury, so certainly it would have an impact on the civil proceedings,” he said.
Stating that Fraud is a very serious criminal offence in Grenada, Pinnock gave some insight into the years that Roger can spend in prison when the matter comes up for the actual sentencing by the trial judge.
“Sentencing is a matter entirely for the judge. We the Prosecutors, we can’t say the likely sentence that the accused obviously would get but the maximum penalty for all of the offences – for forgery the maximum penalty is 15 years, for Uttering the maximum penalty is 15 years and for obtaining properties the maximum penalty is 15 years. The maximum on each penalty is 15 years,” he said
According to Pinnock, the issue of consecutive sentence is not likely to be given in this matter but the Judge may consider a number of things in arriving at a decision including the fact that Roger is a first time offender before the court.
“…In terms of the Principles of Sentencing, the judge will take into account a number of factors prevalent in determining the length of the sentence, the prevalence of the type of offence in the jurisdiction. For example the record and antecedents of the convicted man, does he have any previous conviction? For example the impact of crime on the victims for example in determining the length of the sentence and whether it would be a custodial vs a non-custodial sentence,”he remarked.
The State Prosecutor was also asked about the status of the property, which was obtained by Roger which once belonged to his late father.
He said it is something that the civil court will have to handle because “as things now stand there is no will…”