Gangster directs JP

Chuck discloses worrying allegation as justice of the peace under investigation

BY ANTHONY LEWIS
Observer writer
editorial@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, October 08, 2018

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KENT AVENUE, St James — The nation's noble justice of the peace (JP) vocation has been hit by a disturbing allegation of a gangster taking up post at the offices of an unnamed JP and issuing instructions for that JP to follow.

The worrying situation was disclosed by Minister of Justice Delroy Chuck during a training session for JPs in St James on Saturday. The Justice Ministry's training session was held at Sandals Montego Bay on Kent Avenue.

“One agency came to me and showed me information where, when they saw it, they had to go and do the investigation of a justice of the peace in a particular town of a certain parish. When investigators went there, the justice of the peace has an office, but he is being directed by a well known gangster, who is directing him and interviewing who comes there, then passing the persons on to the justice of the peace and the JP signs under his (the gangster's) direction,” Chuck said.

There are also more allegations against the particular JP, who is now under investigation.

“And in that office they have various forms from government, and they sign and sell the forms. The passport application is signed by the justice of the peace and sold for $150. And when the person comes in, and they sign the ID pictures verifying the person, they charge $1,000,” the minister continued. “You can see immediately that this is corrupting the system and making available criminality flourish.

“And what is very sad, it is being directed by a well known gang in a certain town,” the minister said.

Chuck, who did not name the parish in which the incident involving the known gangster took place, later told the Jamaica Observer that a number of JPs across the island have been compromised.

During the training session, which is the third for the parish, the minister, who did not go into details, also mentioned an incident in St James in which a newly employed hotel worker was accused of raping two female guests at gunpoint just over a week ago. Chuck said he is disappointed with the fact that, despite training for JPs over the past two years, a number of them are succumbing to the challenge of acting inappropriately.

A St Catherine JP is currently under investigation for writing a recommendation for the 24-year-old suspect, who is from Exchange district in St Ann.

It was reported that although the suspect had been listed as a person of interest in several rape cases in Manchester from as early as March, the St Catherine JP wrote a recommendation to a hotel in St James, attesting to the accused man's character as a reliable and suitable person for the job.

“It saddens me, for me to come here and tell you that a number of these allegations are being [investigated] about the justice of the peace. So, I am begging you, justices of the peace, we do have some people who slip through the cracks in becoming JPs; and we have some justices of the peace who are abusing the trust, the confidence, and the authority that we have imposed in them,” a seemingly distressed Chuck stated.

“If you know of anyone, please talk to them, 'Curb your ways.' But if you fail, come back to the custos so that the proper hearing can be done, and if found that you are acting inappropriately, the JP can be decommissioned,” Chuck added.

In the meantime, custos of St James Bishop Conrad Pitkin and Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Anthony Morris, the officer currently in charge of the state of public emergency in St James, warned JPs to be careful when making recommendations and verifications.

SSP Morris pointed out that, in St James, there are JPs verifying individuals not known to them, who are from other parishes.

“Sometimes when our intelligence tells us otherwise, and we do subsequent checks, the JP don't even know who they sign for,” said SSP Morris, who added, “You sign to verify a parent when there is a child involved under 18, but certainly, every adult, you must know them personally. The minister touched on it, you can't let them bring their friend come and pressure you. It is going to come back to bite you.”

For his part, Custos Pitkin had these words of encouragement: “We must maintain the highest level of integrity among our justices of the peace in the parish of St James. Let us be exceptional in what we do. Maintain your character. You don't have to defend your reputation, just maintain your character and all will be well.”

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