I Can Foundation fraud trial postponed until August

POSTED: 06/16/11 1:33 PM

St. Maarten – A couple that landed a job at the I Can Foundation after it did community service there for an earlier conviction, appeared in the Court in First Instance yesterday charged with forging receipts for goods delivered to this foundation and for defrauding the development fund for the Netherland Antilles Usona for almost 400,000 guilders (a bit more than $222,000).

The defendants, Neville Junior Hermitt F., 54, and his spouse Joan Theresa, 42, saw their case postponed to give the defense the opportunity to study new documents that were recently added to the case file and to submit requests to the court for further investigation. The court rescheduled the trial for August 11.

Defense attorney mr. B.B. Brooks told the court that the president of the I Can Foundation, Mauritsia Gibbs, who had files a complaint against her clients, was fully aware of the way the company would submit its invoices, and that she therefore wished to hear her as a witness. “There were agreements with Mrs. Gibbs about these invoices,” she said.

Prosecutor mr. B. den Hartigh said that Gibbs’ perceived knowledge of the fraud did nothing to diminish the defendants’ responsibility for writing forged receipts and for defrauding Usona. “It is possible that Mrs. Gibbs is also guilty of punishable facts.”

Court documents reveal that a company called Personalized Creations N.V. supplied the foundation between April and December of last year with goods for which the couple signed receipts. However, the invoices listed much larger quantities than the company delivered. Based on these receipts, the defendants submitted three invoices dated August 18, September 23, and November 5, to the director of projects and programs c/o the executive council of St. Maarten.

The total amount the I Can Foundation claimed this way from Usona is between 216,000 and almost 400,000 guilders.


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