Judge slams Dr Ford, sentences him to six months
A judge yesterday scolded convicted medical doctor Jephthah Ford, saying that he used his perceived influence to become an agent of corruption.
"The court is of the view that your perceived influence, or who you believe you are, you used that belief to interfere with an officer of the law to call his integrity into question," Senior Parish Judge Simone Wolfe Reece chided Ford.
Wolfe Reece delivered her criticism before handing Ford a six-month prison sentence following his conviction on corruption charges.
The well-known medical doctor immediately indicated, through his attorney, Bert Samuels, that he plans to appeal the conviction and was offered bail in the sum of $1 million. Wolfe Reece instructed that his travel documents remain with authorities and that a stop order remain in place at the ports.
In August, Ford was convicted on two counts of attempting to pervert the course of justice. Prosecutor Joel Brown led evidence that he offered a police investigator millions of dollars to release two Surinamese men and the US$533,886 (J$55 million) they were held with during a police operation along Half-Way Tree Road, St Andrew, in 2014.
Police Sergeant Franklyn McLaren testified during the trial that he secretly recorded a meeting with Ford in which the doctor asked him to write down on a piece of paper how much he would accept to release the men and the cash.
"I wrote 50 per cent on a paper he gave me. I gave him this paper and he used his pen and draw (sic) a line through it and wrote 40 per cent, held it up for me to see, then immediately tore it up. He was telling me that he was a professional, a man of integrity, and that I should trust him," Sergeant McLaren testified on March 22 last year.
SEND A CLEAR MESSAGE
Wolfe Reece said by his actions, the well-known medical doctor was seeking to interfere with due process and the course of justice.
"It was indicated that you contacted the officer so that you could let him know that you were aware of corruption in the force, but, sir, what you did after that was that you turned into, you sought, by your actions, to become an agent of what the court deems to have been corruption," Wolfe Reece said.
"The court has a responsibility to send a clear message. The court cannot encourage citizens to take matters into their own hands as that would ultimately lead to a chaotic society."
Samuels had earlier pleaded with the judge not to give Ford a custodial sentence, pointing out that for decades, he provided free medical assistance to police personnel, inmates in police custody, and the less fortunate.
"It (prison) can be considered, but I ask you to put it aside. The court can say because you have done that for the down-trodden I will not send you there (prison) as a reward for your good work," Samuels pleaded.
The attorney indicated that Ford's action was motivated by a desire to assist others but conceded that "he allowed his good intention to cloud his better judgement".