Court: Sergeant recounts secret recorded meeting with doctor Ford
A police sergeant today recounted how he secretly recorded a meeting in which popular medical doctor Jephthah Ford offered him millions of dollars to end a criminal probe against two Surinamese men and release the US$533,886 or approximately J$55 million they were held with during a police operation in St Andrew in 2014.
"He told me he was trying to save me from myself as the charges [against the men] were spurious and could not stand the light of day," Sergeant Franklyn McLaren recalled of the April 2014 meeting.
McLaren was testifying in Ford's corruption trial, which is now underway at the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate Court.
The former People's National Party candidate for St Andrew North West is on trial for two counts of attempting to pervert the course of justice.
McLaren testified that the two Surinamese men were stopped along Half-Way Tree Road on April 7, 2014 and cash totalling US$536,884 and J$1.3 million found in their possession.
He testified that a week later the men were charged with possession of criminal property and conspiracy to possess criminal property and that he began preparing a case file to have them placed before the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate Court on April 15.
He said the meeting was arranged after he got a telephone call while preparing the case file and after he alerted then chief technical director of the Financial Investigations Division Justin Felice of the discussions on the phone.
McClaren testified that he was fitted with a covert device and taken to 65 Half-Way Tree Road, the spot where he agreed to meet the person in the telephone call.
He said after a brief wait a man emerged from a back office and introduced himself as Dr Ford and escorted him to an office inside the building.
McLaren said they began a conversation in which Ford informed him that he was "going to save me from myself".
He said Ford also informed him that the charges were spurious and that the two men "are not to be placed before the courts".