PNC’s Carol Joseph slapped with electoral fraud charges
…Lawrence, Mingo face more charges
People’s National Congress (PNC) activist Carol Smith-Joseph made her first court appearance on Wednesday for several charges in relation to electoral fraud following the March 2, 2020 elections.
She was arraigned on one count of forgery and two counts of conspiracy to defraud at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts and was placed on $30,000 bail for each charge.
Smith-Joseph was charged jointly with embattled Region Four Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo for forgery. Mingo was also slapped with two counts of conspiracy to defraud.
Also appearing in court on Wednesday was PNC Reform (PNCR) Chairperson Volda Lawrence, who was charged with forgery. Like Smith-Joseph, both Lawrence and Mingo were also granted bail in the sum of $30,000 on each charge.
Speaking with reporters following the arraignment, Attorney-at-Law Nigel Hughes – who is representing all three persons – said that he once again appealed to the Court for all the charges to be heard at the same time when the Police are finally done with their investigations.
“We have been repeatedly asking that when they’re in a position to proceed with all the charges; for the purpose of efficiency, they should bring all the charges at one time and then we can determine what’s perhaps the most efficient way to have those cases heard before the several Magistrates. Bring them in drips every week or every two days does not help, particularly, when you report to the court that you have not completed the investigation and you’re asking for more time,” the Attorney stated.
Hughes added, “So, our proposal was that they take a long date – whether it’s December or January – when they’re confident that they’ve concluded their investigations and we‘re aware of all the charges. So at that stage, we can sit down and have some case management and we can decide cases go forward and which cases are not going forward, which witnesses are going to come.”
The trio are expected to return to court on October 28, 2020.
While these are Smith-Joseph’s first set of charges in relation to electoral fraud, both Lawrence and Mingo have been charged previously, in some cases jointly, for attempting to rig the March 2, 2020 elections.
Only last week, Lawrence was slapped with two conspiracy to defraud charges, and was released on $50,000 bail on each charge.
The PNCR Chair is already facing private criminal charges jointly with Mingo for forging electoral documents in an effort to defraud the country. She was arraigned in August on that charge and placed on $100,000 bail.
In addition to the private criminal charge for which he is out on self-bail, Mingo is also charged by the Police for four counts of misconduct in public office. He is currently on $600,000 bail in relation to those matters.
The Guyana Police Force (GPF) is currently probing allegations of attempts to rig the March 2 elections after receiving “formal reports” back in August. Already, the Police have arrested and charged several staff at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) for the role they played in the events after the March 2 polls.
In addition to Mingo, Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield and his Deputy, Roxanne Myers are facing electoral fraud charges brought by the State.
The CEO is also before the court in relation to three private criminal charges for conspiracy to defraud, misconduct in public office, and breach of public trust. (G8)