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$5M BAIL GRANTED

By JULIEN NEAVES Wednesday, March 12 2014

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FIVE men who appeared yesterday before a Sangre Grande magistrate in connection with the $4.5 million heist at the Sangre Grande branch of Republic Bank were each granted $1 million in bail to cover the charges.

The five who appeared in the First Court before Magistrate Ejenny Espinet include Chaitram Mohammed, 27, of Toco Road, Sangre Grande; Navin Juteram, 32, of Mohammed Drive, El Repos Road, Sangre Grande; Kumar Narine, 23, from Ramlogan Drive, Uquire Road, Freeport; Jason Villafana, 42, from Guaico Village, Sangre Grande and Sateesh Boodram, 33, who hails from East Dinsley Gardens, Tacarigua.

Mohammed, Juteram, Narine and Villafana were all charged with breaking and entering and stealing more than TT$4.4 million, plus various other currencies including US, British pounds sterling, Euros and Eastern Caribbean dollars.

Juteram and Boodram received separate charges of receiving $46,800 and $2.1 million respectively, knowing the money to be stolen. The charges were all laid indictably which means trial before a judge and jury if so ordered by the magistrate.

Attorney Shivan Jadoo appeared for Boodram while attorneys Dinesh Naraine and Shivanand Doobay represented Juteram and Villafana respectively. The lawyers told the court their clients were all “very cooperative” with the police.

There was no objection to bail and it was granted to all the accused men on the condition that they report and sign in at a police station twice weekly. Mohammed was granted $1.3 million bail, Juteram received $1 million bail, Villafana was granted $900,000 bail, Narine received bail of $1.24 million and Boodram was granted $1 million in bail.

Juteram, Mohammed and Narine were also charged for a separate incident — robbery with violence and breaking and entering the Republic Bank Limited on January 17. They will reappear at the Mayaro Magistrates Court on March 24 with two co-accused in relation to that matter.

After the case was adjourned and the accused men were being escorted from the courthouse some relatives and friends on the road were heard calling out “Jason” and “dougla”. The men will reappear in court tomorrow after their tracing (verification of criminal records) is completed.

Meanwhile, a 51-year-old lawyer who was detained by police on Sunday in connection with the case has since been released. Newsday was informed that early yesterday, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard gave instructions that the lawyer, who is a former police officer, be released from custody pending further enquiries.

On Carnival Saturday, at about 2 am, Amalgamated Security guards responded to an alarm triggered at Republic Bank’s Sangre Grande branch. When officers arrived they found the back door broken open and house-breaking implements on the floor. Officers also discovered a vault and a large quantity of jewelry were missing.

Sangre Grande police as well as officials of the National Operations Centre (NOC) teamed up and video footage from surveillance cameras was viewed.

It was learnt that the alarm and lighting system in the bank had been tampered with. The bank later did an audit which revealed $4.5 million was in the vault when it was stolen.

On March 2, Carnival Sunday, six persons were arrested. According to police sources, a total of TT$2,108,220 was recovered as well as US$264, £2,160 and EC$340.

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