By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
A Haitian man who was previously deported was sentenced to a year in prison yesterday for coming back into the country under a fake name and trying to apply for a work permit with a fake letter of approval.
The accused man - who went by the names Louis Anel and Acelhomme Orius – was sentenced by Senior Magistrate Carolyn Vogt-Evans for not only entering the country under a false name, but being caught with a fake approval letter issued by the Department of Immigration to be employed as a handyman.
And those actions by the 37-year-old Gros Morne native came months after he was placed on the restricted list and deported out of the country on May 11.
In sentencing the father of two, Magistrate Vogt-Evans said her “heart is heavy” because of the “audacity” the accused displayed in committing the fraudulent acts just months after being deported.
She harkened back to last week when she sentenced a number of other Haitian nationals to prison for illegally entering the country. At the time, one of them, Gregoire Jude, said the reason he committed the act was because it is “easier” to sneak into the Bahamas as opposed to say, the United States.
“That statement was so profound to me,” Magistrate Vogt-Evans said. “It’s so clear. What we do here is only a scrape at the bottom of the barrel as to what the problem is. And I’m seeing it in these courts. Here it is, a man who was deported, returns to this country and goes to the Immigration Department for a work permit. It’s very serious.”
She added: “It tells me that something is wrong. Why do they believe that they can continue to do this in this country? Why are they finding it so easy to enter as (Jude) would have said to the court?”
According to the facts, around 2.30pm on October 17, the accused attempted to collect a work permit from the Department of Immigration’s headquarters on Hawkins Hill. He presented a Haitian passport with the name “Acelhomme Orius” as identification. However, there was a flag in the system when officers tried to issue the permit.
The flag referred to a fingerprint match with a “Louis Anel” who had been restricted and deported from the country in May. The suspect was subsequently cautioned for presenting fraudulent documentation and taken into custody for further processing and investigation.
A check of the department’s Border Control Management System (BCMS) revealed that “Acelhomme Orius” initially entered the country through the Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) on October 30, 2018 and was permitted to stay as a visitor until December 31 of that year. He returned to the Bahamas on July 5 of this year and was permitted to stay until October 17. However, there was no record of the alias Anel entering the country through any authorised port where the BCMS is in place.
Following a check of the department’s Permit Issuance System (PIS), it was discovered that Anel applied for a work permit on September 26 for employer “Rosie Williams” as a handyman. After a review of that application and its supporting documents, it was discovered that a letter, which resembled an approval letter, was used as grounds for the creation of the application. The letter, dated October 15, 2018, includes the name “Acelhomme Orius” and bore the signature of Valerie Murphy, for the director of immigration.
When given the letter for her perusal and verification, however, Ms Murphy verbally denied ever creating that document and provided another letter stating as much.
Anel was consequently charged with one count each of knowingly attempting to mislead an immigration officer and possession of a forged document.
Prior to being sentenced, Anel’s attorney Alex Dorsett pleaded for the magistrate to be lenient with his client, whom he said was remorseful for his actions. Mr Dorsett further submitted that it would not serve the country well to incarcerate Anel, as the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services (BDCS) is already “bursting at the seams”.
However, Magistrate Vogt-Evans said the court “must do its job without fear, favour, affection or ill-will” and must “ensure” that whatever sentence is passed either rehabilitates or deters the relevant behaviour “based on the immigration climate in the Bahamas”.
Just before passing sentence, the senior magistrate scolded the accused for his actions.
“Mr Orius what you did was very wrong, very, very wrong,” she said. “And the court cannot allow that to happen. The court must be a part of the solution. You must follow the laws of this country. And you really pushed and tempted by leaving here, being deported and returning with a different name. And the audacity to appear to the Department of Immigration with a fraudulent document. You really was pushing the limit.”
Magistrate Vogt-Evans sentenced Anel to six months on count one and a year on count two, the sentences to run concurrently. Anel is ordered to be turned over to the Department of Immigration upon completion of his sentence, she said.
Last week, Magistrate Vogt-Evans lamented that court fines do not seem to be a deterrent to illegal immigration and were “making things worse”, and said undocumented migrants will “go to jail for a longer time” if they keep coming to her court.
The magistrate’s comments came after she sentenced several undocumented migrants to prison for immigration offenses. Among them were five Haitian men —Torly Rafael, Flerice Honore, Jilean Octave, Gregoire Jude and Jimo Joseph — who were sentenced to a collective ten months at the BDCS for illegal landing.
Joseph, 19, of Port de Paix, was living under the radar in the Bahamas for over a year up to the time he was captured by immigration authorities.
Meanwhile a Haitian woman, 40-year-old Philise Jerome, was sentenced to a year in prison last week for sneaking into the country and living under the radar for over a decade.
Immigration officers Shandeshia Marshall and Lashandawn Adderley prosecuted yesterday’s matter.