Jamaica doctor on bribery charge over money seized from Surinamese

(Jamaica Observer) Medical doctor Jephthah Ford was yesterday offered bail in the sum of J$1 million when he appeared in the Half-Way-Tree Resident Magistrate’s Court to answer to a charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

The court was told that the prominent doctor was allegedly caught on camera trying to bribe a policeman, offering him 40 per cent of approximately J$60 million that was seized from two Surinamese nationals.

The doctor, the court heard, allegedly contacted the policeman a day before the foreigners were taken before the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate’s Court and promised to give him the funds if he decided against taking the men to court and returned the money to them.

It was alleged that Dr Ford first offered the policeman 25 per cent of the money, but after he gave the policeman a chance to determine how much he wanted, settled at 40 per cent, when the cop reportedly suggested 50 per cent.

Dr Jephthah Ford
Dr Jephthah Ford

The money was seized from Gene Roshen Daniels and Reingoud Mackel Murvin on April 7 when police in Half-Way-Tree stopped and searched the vehicle in which they were travelling and two bags containing US$533,281 and J$1.3 million were allegedly found.

The men’s hotel room was later searched and 55 Surinamese dollars, along with US$3,000, and J$700 reportedly found.

According to court documents, the men had received an anonymous telephone call to pick up the money at the hotel and to deliver it to someone they did not know. They were subsequently charged with possession of criminal property and conspiracy to possess criminal property. They were freed of the charges when they appeared in court on April 15.

The court heard yesterday that Dr Ford had contacted the investigating officer on April 14 and requested a meeting on behalf of the National Action Coalition.

The cop, who was said to be wearing a covert video and audio camera, reportedly met with the doctor, who asked that he dismiss the case against the men and wrote 25 per cent on a piece of paper and showed it to the policeman before tearing up the paper. It was further alleged that Dr Ford then gave the policeman a piece of paper, and the policeman, who was playing along, wrote 50 per cent, but the doctor crossed out the amount and wrote 40 per cent.

The court heard that Dr Ford then told the policeman that he could trust him and that he was a man of integrity and influence.

Yesterday, as the allegations were being read out in court, Dr Ford appeared unperturbed as he stood with a slight smile on his face and only looked serious when he turned around and stared at reporters, as they took notes.

Dr Ford’s lawyer, Marjorie Shaw, said the instructions from her client were very brief, but so far suggest something quite different from what the Crown was alleging.

Before asking for bail, Shaw indicated that she would need to get full instructions from her client.

Dr Ford was offered bail by Resident Magistrate Lorna Shelly Williams on condition that he report to the Constant Spring Police Station three times daily and surrender his travel documents. The matter was then scheduled for mention on May 9.


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