Man charged for impersonating First Lady in scholarship scam

first_imgClaiming mental illness…prosecution bashed for illogical reasoningOne day after he was hauled before Magistrate Leron Daly, slapped with a string of fraud charges in connection with sums of money allegedly obtained from victims while purporting to be the First Lady (Sandra Granger), Mohammed Ali returned on Thursday last to face Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan, before whom he claimed to be suffering from a mental illness for which he is undergoing treatment at the “Berbice mad house”.Ali has been convicted on several fraud and simple larceny charges, and was serving time at the New Amsterdam Prisons when the allegations were made. Between April 1 and April 30, 2017, by falsely pretending to be the First Lady andMohammed Alibeing in a position to offer scholarships to his victims, he allegedly obtained twelve pennyweight of gold (valued at $139,000) from Beverly Harris at Mahaica, East Coast Demerara; $30,000 worth of phone cards from a person at Tuschen, East Bank Essequibo; and some $30,000 in cash from another victim. These transactions were reportedly executed over the telephone.The accused had initially denied the charges laid against him. However, he admitted to inducing several persons to send sums of money to his phone, but not to the extent to which he was charged. In what seemed to be an acceptance of fate, the accused then expressed his desire to meet the First Lady in the face of a possibly lengthy penalty sentence.On Thursday, the Chief Magistrate had cause to admonish Prosecutor Arvin Moore because of the incomplete status of the file, and questioned why the charge was initiated in the manner it was.“Don’t file charges unless you are ready to proceed… You do not bring convicted prisoners out of prison willy-nilly, unless you are ready to bring them out! You’re not about logistics!” she said in rebutting the prosecution’s position that charges were initiated following advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).McLennan opined that the charges should not have been pressed in such a rushed manner. She advanced that the police should rather have waited until completion of investigation, as the accused was “not going anywhere”, being confined within the walls of the prison.As part of her reasoning, the magistrate bemoaned the issue of accessibility (of convicted prisoners) who had to be transported from their place of holding to the courts for every hearing.When given a chance to speak, Ali contended that he was undergoing counselling and treatment for an illness which he did not wish to discuss in public hearing, while further alleging that he was denied medication for three days, which he said provoked his condition, causing him to slit his wrists.Again the prosecution came under fire for failing to ascertain the health status of the accused, which inevitably led to the violation of a fundamental constitutional right.The Prosecution requested to be granted one month to complete the file, and the case was adjourned to January 22, 2018.Mohamed Ali is also an artist, who had studied at the Burrowes School of Art. He brought with him to court several pieces of his work, one of which he presented to the Chief Magistrate.“This one is for you ma’am…I have others, you can have a look if you like,” he was heard saying as an officer escorted him out of the courtroom.An obviously intrigued Magistrate McLennan read the poetic quote to the court, ending with the words, ‘Dear Lord, thank You for another chance”.In August last, amidst several allegations, the First Lady had cautioned the public against entertaining telephone calls and email messages which sought to exhort sums of money from persons under the promise of scholarship opportunities offered by her. She reminded that no such offer exists under her office, but rather under the remit of the Public Service Ministry. (Paula Gomes)last_img read more