By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
A former Crystal Palace casino worker has been ordered to report to Fox Hill prison so he can begin serving a near-three year sentence for a $20,000 counterfeit money/theft offence committed almost 12 years ago.
Appeal Justice Jon Isaacs, writing a unanimous verdict, ordered that Alexander Johnson turn himself into the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) before last weekend for transportation to the Bahamas Department of Corrections after the Court of Appeal upheld his conviction.
Johnson, who held the position of “main banker” at the now-demolished Cable Beach-based casino, was found guilty of attempting to steal $20,000 from his then-employer and trying to cover-up the theft by replacing the funds taken with counterfeit US$100 bills.
Appeal justice Isaacs drew heavily on the evidence laid out by Magistrate Carolyn Vogt-Evans at the original trial in 2016, where she convicted Johnson of possessing forged US currency and stealing by reason of employment. She imposed a 35-month custodial sentence, but that was delayed while the appeal process played out.
Magistrate Vogt-Evans noted that Johnson was quickly identified as a prime suspect once the counterfeit US dollar bills were discovered “because he was responsible for all the money on his shift, and the [fake] notes were found on his shift and he never reported it”.
The counterfeit money was discovered in three “floats” provided to cashiers of the Crystal Palace’s sports book when Johnson would have been on shift, and prosecution witnesses testified that there were both discrepancies in his filed paperwork and strange behaviour that was caught on video surveillance.
Michelle Turnquest, the Crystal Palace’s video surveillance operator, testified that Johnson did not follow established procedures as he “placed a tray on a chair with his back to the camera. He took money from the safe stacked on the ground, which he threw there, and you could not tell what his body was doing........ he was putting the money on the table under a mat.”
Johnson was arrested three days after the incident on December 17, 2008, by Royal Bahamas Police Force officers who found $1,448 on him that they suspected to be the proceeds of crime. A search of his vehicle produced Neenal Brand paper suspected of being used to produce the 200 US$100 counterfeit notes.
This was confirmed following a forensic examination by Kyne Dekoski, an officer with the US Secret Service. Using a “30 power microscope”, he testified that the paper found in Johnson’s vehicle was the same as that which had been used to produce the counterfeit US currency.
“The analysis of the Neenan paper found in the appellant’s vehicle and examination of the paper used in the counterfeit currency by the US Secret Service revealed that ‘the paper examined striati onas was present in the paper which was also present in the bills;,” Appeal Justice Isaacs noted.
He, and his two fellow appeal judges, rejected Johnson’s claim that his conviction was “unsafe and unsatisfactory” because the magistrate had used “intent to defraud” as an element of the theft offence. Appeal justice Isaacs said there was no suggestion that this placed a “burden” on the former casino worker.