FLEECED!

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Corey Robinson Staff Re­porter corey.robinson@glean­erjm.com

HEAD OF the De­por­tee As­sis­tance Unit (DAU), Dr Jeph­thah Ford, last week dis­tanced him­self from al­le­ga­tions of fraud brought against him and his ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor by a woman, who claimed she was fleeced some $80,000 for as­sis­tance to re­turn to the United States (US). Ford and Shechem Lafayette, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the DAU, were brought to court by An­drea Tay­lor, who was de­ported from the US for al­legedly traf­fick­ing mar­i­juana from Los An­ge­les to New York in 1996. Tay­lor said she felt she was un­fairly de­ported and con­tacted the DAU ear­lier this year for help to­wards an ap­peal to the US govern­ment. Lafayette, she said, charged her two pay­ments of $40,000 each for his as­sis­tance, but has re­peat­edly failed to pro­vide her with any mean­ing­ful in­for­ma­tion.

In Fe­bru­ary, both Ford and Lafayette were gush­ing over a rul­ing which they said they se­cured from the United States Board of Im­mi­gra­tion Ap­peals, which sug­gested that thou­sands of Ja­maicans were be­ing de­ported un­fairly from that coun­try.

‘I AM IN­NO­CENT’

Now Ford is ex­press­ing re­gret over get­ting in­volved with Lafayette in the first place, who him­self had also been de­ported from the US sev­eral years ago. Ac­cord­ing to them, nei­ther Ford nor Tay­lor has seen him in weeks.

“I am in­no­cent,” de­clared Ford, af­ter turn­ing up to an­swer al­le­ga­tions of con­tract breach­ing at the Kingston Parish Court on Sut­ton Street last Thurs­day. “To my great dis­tress, I took in a boy who was a de­por­tee, who knows the Amer­i­can le­gal sys­tem, train him­self in it and is an ex­pert.

“He goes around and he takes peo­ple’s money, like the woman (Tay­lor) in ques­tion, takes her money in a car park. Now, the whole sys­tem is right here, and once he takes the money he can­not do the job for her. So I don’t know any­thing about it.”

Tay­lor said the first pay­ment of $40,000 was made on April 1 this year, and that an­other pay­ment was made 12 days af­ter that. Ford said, how­ever, that he only heard about the trans­ac­tion a few weeks ago.

“Four months af­ter­wards she turned up at my of­fice and told me that she gave him money, and I asked ‘how you give him money in a car park and out­side in the front of the yard? Any busi­ness can op­er­ate that way’?” he asked.

“The boy took her money and steal it,” he con­tin­ued, not­ing that his of­fice has been fend­ing off at least four other com­plaints that have come against them from per­sons re­port­ing to have paid money to Lafayette.

“We found out he has a lit­tle of­fice op­er­at­ing in Lin­stead [St Cather­ine] and he has been scam­ming peo­ple. That’s why you don’t hear any­thing about DAU from me any­more, be­cause any­how you look at it, it is go­ing to be bad for us,” he said, ex­plain­ing that he has known Lafayette for many years and saw no in­di­ca­tions of the ac­tions he has been ac­cused of.

Ford said that, like Tay­lor, he has re­ported the in­ci­dent to the police and that the cops have been comb­ing sections of St Cather­ine in search for Lafayette.

“I have not done any­thing wrong,” Ford re­it­er­ated.

Ford said that he went to court last Thurs­day with the aim of de­fend­ing him­self, but that when he heard the se­ri­ous­ness of the al­le­ga­tions he asked to have the case resched­uled to have his at­tor­ney present.

On Thurs­day, a wor­ried Tay­lor sweated pro­fusely as she out­lined her case. She said the $80,000 was ini­tially set aside for her daugh­ter’s ter­tiary tu­ition.

In­stead, Tay­lor said, she opted to pay Lafayette the money to file the mo­tion aimed at hav­ing her re­turn to the US.

“Me want back my money, and even if I can’t get back my money I want oth­ers to know that he is a scam­mer,” she ar­gued.

“I got the ap­pli­ca­tion let­ter for my daugh­ter’s col­lege and I said that I will not bother with it be­cause it would be bet­ter if I get a chance to go back to the States, take her up, and she can get to go to col­lege over there. I never know that he was go­ing to take my money,” she fumed.

COURT AP­PEAR­ANCE

An­drea Tay­lor

An­drea Tay­lor shows proof of hir­ing the De­por­tee As­sis­tance Unit to as­sist with her de­por­ta­tion ap­peal to the US govern­ment.

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