Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Detectives hunt cop




Mark Fraser

FRAUD SQUAD detectives are now hunting a woman police officer wanted in connection with 15 fraud-related charges amounting to more than a quarter million dollars.

Woman police constable Elizabeth Hope, 40, attached to the Criminal Investigations Department at the Police Administration Building in Port of Spain is now “being treated as fugitive”, according to a senior police personnel.

Senior police sources close to the investigation told CCN that Hope absconded last week and is believed to have flown to New York with her final destination projected as England.

“Since she left the country warrants have been issued for her arrest and Interpol has been informed about the individual,” another police officer familiar with the case revealed.

Hope, senior police sources say allegedly claimed to be ill with cancer and racked up medical bills for $88,000, $54,000 and $28,340 between the period January and February of this year.

Apart from these recent medical receipt claims, fraud squad detectives are probing medical receipts she made dating back to 2009. 

“We could be talking about close to half a million dollars here that could have been claimed,” said another investigator.

Police probing this year’s medical receipts discovered that the medical receipts were prepared with Hope’s name and a doctor’s stamp affixed by a receptionist at a medical institution in North Trinidad.

The amount which was inclusive of the visit and medication was left blank and they believe this was later filled in.

The receptionist was subsequently charged with six counts of forgery and appeared last week before a Port of Spain magistrate.

Hope, they say is wanted for 15 counts of fraud under the forgery act which includes uttering a forged document, obtaining a valuable security (government cheques) and falsification of documents.

“When fraud squad detectives dug deeper into the matter they found out that the actual receipts did not add up to the cost of medication and other things that were stated on the medical receipt. In fact the receipt for $88,000 was actually supposed to be $8,000 and the one for $54,000 was actually $20,000,” explained a senior police source.

“All the receipts were passed through the Finance Branch and what we know was that WPC Hope would actually walk the application to be approved by the Commissioner of Police, because he is the one will have to sign off on all those claims, so I know this must be embarrassing to the Commissioner in a sense,” explained a senior                                                                               police source in the Port of Spain division.

Hope, sources say had claimed to be afflicted with cancer for the last five years. Fraud Squad detectives probing the case later interviewed  a surgeon at the same medical institution where Hope was supposedly treated. 

In a official statement taken by the police, the surgeon denied ever  treating Hope for anything cancer related, but had in fact only performed some minor surgery on her.

ccn tried contacting Ag Police Commissioner Stephen Williams for a comment on the matter, but calls to his cellphone went unanswered. 

ASP Joanne Archie, PRO for the Police Service, told CCN that the Commissioner was in a meeting but confirmed the ongoing investigation concerning Hope.

She said: “Warrants have been issued for her arrest by the police. At the moment she cannot be found and checks are being made as investigations continue. Interpol has been asked to assist.”

Sources also told CCN that the 40-year-old Hope first worked at the Administration Department, later moving to the Repeat Offenders Programme (ROP), the Anti-Kidnapping Squad and then to the Criminal Investigations Department at Police Administration Building where she worked as a criminal profiler.

Hope, senior police sources say, allegedly racked up over $150,000 in overtime payments even as she claimed to be ill. Checks by other fraud squad detectives discovered that these claims in most cases turned out to be false and a parallel investigation is ongoing into that.

Senior police sources say the surgeon  who gave a statement to police in relation to Hope has since received threatening text messages and they are investigating this.

Hope, is also the subject of an investigation by the Professional Standards Bureau — a unit mandated to investigate rogue elements within the service.

Acting Sergeant Anthony St Clair of the Fraud Squad is continuing investigations into the matter.