One More charged in US Visa Scam

Photo Max operator Gary Stephen appeared in court Wednesday to face indictable charges in connection with a US Visa scam

Photo Max operator Gary Stephen appeared in court Wednesday to face indictable charges in connection with a US Visa scam

Police have arrested and charged another suspect in connection with the discovery of a major VISA scam that has been taking place in the country for over 20 years.

The latest person to be picked up is 31-year-old Concord, St. John resident Gary Stephen who is employed at Photo Max photo studio on St. John’s Street in St. George’s.

A party of police officers entered the building on Tuesday morning and left with Stephen in a waiting vehicle.

His arrest came 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.

Police sources had dropped hints since last week that more arrests were likely as the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) were assisting in the investigations.

Stephen was late Tuesday slapped with three indictable charges – forgery, possession of a forged document and conspiracy to utter a forged document.

He made his first court appearance Wednesday before Chief Magistrate Tamara Gill at the St. George’s No.1 Magistrate Court where his defense counsel, Attorney-at-Law Denise Burris was successful in a bail application for her client.

The Chief Magistrate granted bail in the sum of EC$20, 000 with two sureties and imposed special conditions, including the surrender of all travel documents to the court forthwith, and ordered the accused not to leave the state without the permission of the court, and to report to the Central Police Station on the Carenage every Monday between 6.00 a.m. and 6.00 p.m.

Stephen was also warned against having any contact with the witnesses for the Prosecution in the case brought against him.

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecution is leading the case for the State.

The State is alleging 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 NEW TODAY newspaper understands that the allegations against Stephen date back to February 2013, in which he facilitated a female individual with the forged job letter that was presented to the US Embassy in Barbados.

Stephen faces a minimum of 5 years to a maximum of 15 years imprisonment if convicted of the charges laid against him.

The suspect is due back in court on December 4th.

Sources told this newspaper that the State has secured an affidavit from someone who allegedly paid as much as EC$3200.00 to one of the visa scammers to try and enter the United States.

A source confirmed to THE NEW TODAY that the police investigators have picked up information that persons were required to pay fees ranging from EC$800.00 to EC$3200.00 to those involved in the illegal operation aimed at helping persons to get into the U.S.

The two other accused persons, Smith and Mc Kie are currently on EC$50, 000 bail on over 12 counts related to the visa scam.

Acting Director of Public Prosecution, Howard Pinnock who is spearheading both matters told THE NEW TODAY that more persons could be arrested as the police investigations continue and widen.

Speculation is rife that one of the persons under investigation is an employee of the Grenada Olympic Association, which is affiliated to the scandal-riddled parent body known as the International Olympic Association whose President Sepp Blatter was recently suspended from office on corruption-related accusations.

Another person of interest to the police investigators is a Justice of the Peace in St. George’s who allegedly signed most of the documents given to persons who approached the U.S Embassy in Bridgetown in Barbados for visas to travel to the United States.

A well-placed source told this newspaper that plans are afoot to revoke the person’s appointment as a Justice of Peace to facilitate possible criminal charges against the individual who is a known political activist of the ruling New National Party (NNP) government.

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