A month after the Fyzabad Secondary School was booted from the Secondary Schools Football League for submitting false academic certificates for two players, principal Troy Jebodhsingh and physical education teacher Nigel Lakhan appeared in the San Fernando Magistrates’ Court on six charges of corruption.
Jebodhsingh and Lakhan were each granted $120,000 bail with a $15,000 cash alternative.
Jebodhsingh, 50, has 27 years with the Teaching Service Commission of which seven was spent as a principal. The father of two also served as a police officer for four years.
Senior Magistrate Cherril-Anne Antoine read the charges that on September 6 at the Ministry of Education along Farrah Street, San Fernando, Jebodhsingh, being in a public office as the principal of the Fyzabad Secondary School, misbehaved by submitting A Level recommendation forms for 2017 O’Level results for two students to a School Supervisor III of at the St Patrick District Office of the Ministry of Education, knowing that they were not a bona_fide students of the Fyzabad Secondary School and was not qualified to pursue the Caribbean Advance Proficiency Examination (CAPE).
Also, on September 5 at Guapo Road, Fyzabad, while as principal of the Fyzabad Secondary School, him being a member of Teaching Service Commission, contrary to the Education Act, did misbehave himself in public office by signing a declaration on a Secondary School Football League players’ form, authorising the students to participate in the Secondary School Football League’s premier league competition knowing they were not bona_fide students and were not qualified to pursue CAPE.
The charges against Lakhan, 40, a teacher for 21 years, were that on September 5 at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva, he submitted player registrations forms for the ineligible students, bearing the school’s stamp and the principal’s signature, knowing that they were false and intended to defraud. Also, at Guapo Road, Fyzabad, he intended to defraud with a forged Secondary School Football League’s player registration form bearing the school’s stamp and the signature of the principal.
Lakhan and Jebodhsingh were jointly charged with two offences that on September 5 at the Ministry of Education office along Farrah Street, San Fernando, they uttered false Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) Secondary Education Certificates for January 2017 for the two players in contravention of the Forgery Act.
The charges against both accused were laid indictably, however, prosecutor Cleyon Seedan did not object to bail.
Jebodhsingh was represented by attorney Chateram Sinanan while Chris Ramlal stood for Lakhan.
Both lawyers protested against the arrest of their clients on Monday before warrants were issued. However, Seedan said the Fraud Squad investigators led by Sgt Smith were liaising with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The charges that occurred in Fyzabad were adjourned to November 22 at the Siparia Magistrates’ court while the Couva matters will be held at the Couva Magistrates’ Court on November 23. They are expected to return to the San Fernando court on November 28.
Fyzabad principal and PE teacher charged with six counts of fraud each over SSFL scandal.
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868).
Fyzabad Secondary principal Troy Jebodhsingh and physical education teacher Nigel Lakhan appeared before a San Fernando court today on multiple fraud-related offences related to their registration of school footballers Dez Jones and Maurice Dick.
Jones, a former Siparia Secondary student who captained Fyzabad Secondary this season, and Dick, a former Moruga Secondary student, were both enrolled in lower sixth form on the basis of fraudulent CXC transcripts, which claimed they had four passes each.
The Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) Executive unearthed the discrepancy—after a probe was requested by Trinity College Moka—and the matter was relayed to the Ministry of Education and then the Fraud Squad. Fyzabad were ejected from the SSFL Premier Division while Jebodhsingh subsequently suspended his team’s entire football programme in both the girls’ and boys’ divisions.
Jebodsingh, 50, faces six charges which include four counts of misbehaviour in public office and two counts of uttering forged CXC certificates. The school principal, who was a police officer for four years, has been in the Teaching Service for 27 years. He was represented by attorney Chateram Sinanan.
Lakhan, 41, will also answer six charges, two counts of uttering forged certificates to school supervisor Zabeedah Abid, two for uttering forged application forms to the SSFL and two counts of forgery. The PE teacher has been a member of the Teaching Service for 21 years. He was represented by attorney Chris Ramlal.
The DPP on Wednesday evening advised the police to charge the two teachers, following investigations led by Head of the Fraud Squad, Totaram Dookhie. The charges were laid by Sergeant Earl Smith of the Fraud Squad.
Jones and Dick were questioned but not charged while coach Brian Williams, a Trinidad and Tobago national youth team coach and former Strike Squad standout, was not implicated.
Jones and Dick maintained that they had no part in the fraud. Both teenagers told Wired868, in an interview last month, that Lakhan requested their exam certificates and never returned them. They were then told that they would be allowed to enter Form Six at the school.
“I just carried what the school asked for, [which was] my original document and birth paper,” said Dick. “I don’t know what they did after that… It is really the administration in the school and whoever had my certificate at the time.”
Dick, who had just one CXC pass in physical education, was taking sixth form classes in business, accounts, physical education, entrepreneurship and communication when the fraud was discovered.
When last month Wired868 contacted Jones, who had two CXC passes, he was not sure what form or class he was supposed to be in—despite already being six weeks into the school term. When the Fraud Squad interviewed the two players, they are believed to have found Jones working on a construction site.
“They asked if I want to come back and play school football,” said Jones, in a previous interview. “And I said ‘yeah, I want to come and play.’ And then I went training…”
Lakhan and Fyzabad vice-principal Suresh Roopnarine told the SSFL that the two boys duped them and somehow danced around the process for vetting students, which saw their documents pass through the school’s screening committee, Principal Jebodhsingh and the school supervisor.
However, only Lakhan and Jebodhsingh will answer for the crime in court.
Both Jebodhsingh and Lakhan were placed on a total of TT$120,000 bail with a total cash alternative of TT$15,000. The principal’s bail will cover the matters in San Fernando and Siparia while Lakhan’s will cover the charges in the three areas, San Fernando, Couva and Siparia.
They will both reappear in the different courts next week.