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Voter Padding - First ever convictions
« on: April 03, 2007, 03:56:21 PM »
Trinidad & Tobago Newsday
Tuesday, April 3 2007
PNM women guilty of voter-padding


TWO FEMALE supporters of the ruling People’s National Movement (PNM) yesterday pleaded guilty to voter-padding. This was the first time someone was actually convicted and sentenced for voter-padding.

Voter-padding reared its head in 2000 when allegations were made against the United National Congress (UNC). Several UNC supporters were arrested and charged, but most of them were later discharged.

However, the arrests of two PNM supporters were kept low-keyed. The preliminary inquiry at the Port-of-Spain Magistrates’ Court was also kept away from the glare of the media. The only time the media found out about the arrests of the PNM supporters was just before their guilty plea yesterday.

Judy Joseph, 52, and her daughter Aleena, 29, were before Justice Rajendra Narine in the Port-of-Spain First Criminal Court charged with making a false statement to the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC).

They claimed that they moved from the constituency of Morvant/Laventille because their Member of Parliament Fitzgerald Hinds, gave them nothing. They further claimed they moved to the San Juan/ Barataria constituency, but when the EBC and police caught up with them, both mother and daughter confessed.

The two Josephs entered in a plea agreement with the State and yesterday, their lawyers pleaded for a fine. In passing sentence, Justice Narine said the offences were very serious. He said the court could not condone such offences, but he took into account their clean record and the fact they did not waste the court’s time.

Narine imposed a $3,000 fine on each woman and gave them six months to pay the fine. He ended by telling them he hoped that they would not get themselves involved in this sort of thing in the future.

It was alleged that on Octo-ber 5, 2000 at Barataria, both women made false statements that they changed their address from Shende Street, San Juan to Water Lane, Sunshine Avenue in San Juan, in 1996.

State attorneys Jeron Joseph and Debby Ann Basaw prosecuted. Wayne Sturge appeared for Judy Joseph, while Owen Hinds Jr represented Aleena Joseph. The court heard that both women lived at 43 Shende Street.

On October 5, 2000, they went to the EBC office at Fifth Street, Barataria and tendered two Form 22 forms to the Commission. This form re-quires a person to notify the EBC of a change of address.

Investigations by the EBC later revealed that the two forms were invalid. The EBC then handed over the forms to Assistant Commissioner Gilbert Reyes, of the CID. Two policemen were appointed to investigate the matter. On November 1, 2000, the lawmen went to the home of both women.

When questioned about the Form 22, Judy Joseph said: “I really did that because Mr Hinds never really do nothing for me.” Five days later, both women were arrested and charged. They both gave statements to the police.

In her statement, Judy Joseph admitted telling the EBC she was living at Water Lane and wanted to vote in the San Juan/Barataria constituency, not Morvant/ Laventille. Judy Joseph said she committed the offence on her own. “Nobody told me to do that. When the police came, I told them what I did and why,” she said in her statement.

Sturge said the incident was the ‘zenith of diabolical conduct’. In pleading for leniency for his client, Sturge said Joseph did not want to call any names, neither did she want to make the PNM look bad.


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