By Syann Thompson
Tribune Staff Reporter
A HAITIAN man was charged with 18 counts of fraud yesterday for obtaining a valid Bahamian passport using forged documents.
Ramao Ralph Smith is accused of using fraudulent documents, including two birth certificates, a voter’s card, along with a lost passport, to obtain a valid Bahamian passport. It is alleged that he also obtained a genuine National Insurance Board card using false identification.
The 27-year-old pleaded not guilty to all charges. His attorney, Geoffrey Farquharson told the magistrate that there is no evidence supporting the charges as there needs to be proof that the documents were forged. Magistrate Andrew Forbes advised Farquharson that he can make that submission at trial.
Smith was denied bail and must submit an application to the Supreme Court for pre-trial release. His trial begins on March 9, 2020.
Meanwhile, 37-year-old Smith Eclaire was sentenced to three years in prison for attempting to defraud the government in order to gain status in the country.
The Haitian man pleaded guilty to four counts of fraud by false pretences. Eclaire used the name of Maxon Pierre to obtain valid documents from the Criminal Records office, a passport from the Haitian Consulate and obtained an immunisation card in the same name in his alleged attempts to defraud the government and become naturalised.
Eclaire told Magistrate Forbes, “I know I did something wrong. I was not supposed to do it. I did not know the country’s laws well.”
Magistrate Forbes asked him if defrauding the government is legal in Haiti, to which Eclaire answered, “No.”
The 37-year-old apologised to the judge and asked to be sent back home to Haiti or have his sentence reduced. Eclaire explained that he did not intend to commit the wrongdoing but that life was hard. He added that his mother passed away, he has a wife and four children and was trying to gain status in the Bahamas after living in a difficult situation.
Magistrate Forbes sentenced him to three years for each count to run concurrently and advised that he is able to appeal the sentencing. Once the sentence is up, Eclaire must be handed over to immigration officials, the judge ordered.