Opinion: Amazing

POSTED: 09/29/11 1:49 PM

It was an interesting case, the trial of Neville Forde and his wife Joan Theresa. It is an example of how not to do things – yet we suspect that this is exactly what is happening on a large scale on our island. People fiddle to achieve what they consider legitimate goals. And when they get caught, they bemoan this fact and tell the court that they only had the best of intentions.

Neville and Joan found themselves in a unique position. Joan was doing community service at the I Can Foundation – as far as we could determine as the result of embezzling money from a former employer in 2008. Or maybe it was for another conviction, but that one was not mentioned in court.

Amazingly, the I Can Foundation decided to, as the Dutch say, tie the cat on top of the bacon, and let Joan do some administrative work.

More amazingly, Joan and her husband Neville were running a company called Personalized Creations.

Even more amazingly, this company won a contract to equip the new I Can Foundation home with goods worth around 400,000 guilders. The tab for all this fun was picked up by the development fund Usona; it even gave Personalized Creations a ten percent down payment to get things going.

Not mentioned in court, and probably never mentioned to the I Can Foundation or to Usona, was the fact that Joan Sandy-Forde was declared personally bankrupt in 2007. An attorney familiar with the case said yesterday that this state of personal bankruptcy still exists.

When the couple ran out of money to execute the contract they attempted to get bank credit. That did not work – according to their lawyer because banks shut the door as soon as they hear the word Usona.

What to do? The couple claimed to have the best of intentions. And since there was no money in their bank account, and since the banks were unwilling to help them out, they decided to fool the system.

Personalized Creations started to write invoices for goods it never delivered. On the receiving end, Joan Sandy-Forde checked these invoices and put a good looking stamp on them as well as an authoritative initial and bingo: Usona ponied up.

All this could have gone undetected like forever, had I Can director Cassandra Gibbs not encountered a Usona-representative and told her that not all goods had been delivered yet. That was odd, the Usona-rep thought, since she happened to know that the project had been paid out in full.

From there the ball started rolling in the wrong direction. According to the attorney for the defense Gibbs, in an attempt to cover her behind, quickly filed a complaint at the police, and the Personalized Creations couple was arrested.

A weird turn of events because the I Can Foundation had not suffered any negative consequences at that point. In fact, it benefited from the creativity of its supplier.

That situation does not exist anymore, because the money is gone, and the goods have not been delivered. So in the end, it is fair to say that the I Can Foundation did suffer, but the impression we got in court that the situation is one it helped create.

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Opinion: Amazing by

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