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Ex-JPS employee in trouble for illegal connection

BY TANESHA MUNDLE Observer staff reporter mundlet@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, August 05, 2014    

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A former Jamaica Public Service (JPS) technician and his alleged accomplice, who were accused of illegally connecting a barber shop to the electricity grid, were taken before the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate's Court last week.

The 52-year-old electrician, Michael Sutton of Waltham Park Road in Kingston, and Verol Foster, 41, of Foster Lane in Kingston 13, are both accused of collecting $30,000 from the barber to do the connection after pretending that they were legitimate JPS technicians.

It is alleged that Sutton was wearing JPS identification when he went to connect the utility at the shop in a plaza in Half-Way-Tree, St Andrew.

Both men were taken into custody on July 11 and charged with simple larceny, obtaining money by false pretence, tampering with electricity and trespassing on the works of the JPS.

The men were arrested and charged after investigators from the utility company went to the plaza to do a follow-up check on the shop, which had been allegedly using stolen electricity from 2012, and noticed that a meter in the meter room on the plaza was missing.

The owner of the barber shop was questioned and he reportedly told the police that he had paid Sutton to do the installation and that he (Sutton) took the meter. Sutton was summoned and he showed up with the meter in his possession, along with Foster, and both were arrested. Foster was, however, released on station bail.

On Thursday when the matter was mentioned, Sutton's lawyer, Shana-Gaye Mitchel, denied the allegations.

She told the court that her client was called to the establishment to check on a meter which was on fire and he took the meter with him.

"I don't know anything about being an electrician, but I know the breaker, the big thing on the wall, and it can turn off and on and shut down the power," RM Georgianna Fraser said. "I don't know why anyone would need an electrician for that. By the time the electrician reach, the whole place would burn down."

The magistrate then cautioned the lawyer about the instructions she received, while noting that they did not make sense and could not amount to a proper defence.

The lawyer told the court that her client was once employed to the company and that he had no intention of defrauding anyone.

Sutton was subsequently offered bail in the sum of $100,000 on condition that he report twice per week at Hunt's Bay Police Station, while Foster's bail was extended.

Both men are to return to court on August 26.

"Mr Sutton, I would advise you to don't do anything with any JPS meter, even if it is on fire," RM Fraser told the acused man.

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