Sat | Jul 11, 2020

Neighbours: Pinnock a changed man since corruption probe

Published:Thursday | October 10, 2019 | 12:00 AMDanae Hyman/Online Reporter
Caribbean Maritime University president, Professor Fritz Pinnock, outside his home yesterday morning.

Neighbours in Hellshire, St Catherine, of Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) President Professor Fritz Pinnock yesterday said that since news broke of his connection to accusations of corruption involving the Ministry of Education and the CMU, his behaviour has changed drastically.

“He used to be the type to call to us on the road and just always exchange pleasantries,” one neighbour told The Gleaner as personnel from the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) searched Pinnock’s home just metres away.

“But since everything came out, whenever he’s leaving or coming in, him hold him head straight and just leave from his car to his house and vice versa.”

Pinnock, former Education Minister Ruel Reid; Reid’s wife, Sharen; their daughter, Sharelle; and councillor for the Brown’s Town division in North West St Ann, Kim Brown Lawrence, were all arrested during pre-dawn operations at their homes in St Andrew, St Catherine, and St Ann yesterday morning.

Brown Lawrence’s division is in the constituency for which Reid had been caretaker and was hoping to represent for the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP). The JLP last month confirmed that he had resigned from his caretaker post.

Another of Pinnock’s neighbours said that although the CMU president was never one to always be outside, he had been seen far more frequently in the community before being named in the education ministry corruption scandal.

“Since this thing, him will leave early a morning and come in some very late night, and you will barely see anybody come out from over the house, but you can see that them there. Him never water garden or nothing because he had a gardener, but he was more frequent then, before the news,” the neighbour said.

In the meantime, during the four-hour search operation at Pinnock’s home, investigators also searched a Suzuki Vitara, a Suzuki Jimny, a Honda Element, and a Mitsubishi Pajero at the property and confiscated several documents.

A Honda Accord Sport was also parked at the property, but Pinnock’s daughter said it was owned by someone else and therefore she did not possess a key for the vehicle.

The Pajero is registered to the CMU.

A police source on the scene disclosed to The Gleaner that the search went a little longer than that of normal operations because officers had to meticulously comb through each room as well as documents found on the premises.

According to the source, another reason the operation took an extended time was because Pinnock’s wife, an attorney-at-law, insisted on going through the search procedures with the investigators to make notes.

Personnel from MOCA and the Financial Investigation Division were responsible for the operation.