MONTEGO BAY, St James — A St James man will find out this Friday how much time he will have to spend in jail after he pleaded guilty to participating in a lottery scam targeting elderly Americans. His plea was entered in the St James Circuit Court on Monday.
Michael Coke was charged with possession of identity information, alongside his girlfriend Moesha Nedrik who has pleaded not guilty to the charge.
The two were arrested on August 24, 2018 after a team of officers went to their home in Bogue Hill, St James.
During a search of a chest-of-drawers, cops discovered a black plastic bag containing 10 letter-sized papers with the names, addresses and phone numbers of people residing overseas. A further search was conducted and a handbag was found to contain an additional 12 letter-sized papers with identity information.
When informed of the findings Coke reportedly said to the officer, “Like how I make $100 every two weeks, you can give me back the paper them.”
Nedrik reportedly then told Coke, “Shut your mouth!”
The two were subsequently taken to the Montego Bay Police Station, where they were cautioned.
Coke reportedly ignored the advice to avoid saying anything and told cops, “My girlfriend didn’t do anything, why you have her in this? I will take the blame for everything.”
When Nedrik was cautioned, she made no comment.
On Monday High Court judge, Justice Judith Pusey ordered a social enquiry report on Coke as well as the defendant’s antecedents, and postponed sentencing until July 28.
The case against Nedrik will be mentioned on that date.
Their bails were extended.
Coke also allegedly committed a similar offence on April 28, 2019 in which hundreds of names, addresses, and phone numbers were discovered inside two Microsoft Excel documents on his cellphone.
That matter will also be mentioned on July 28.
Coke’s conviction is one of few amid a slew of cases against alleged scammers that have crumbled because of challenges at the police force’s Communication Forensics and Cybercrime Division (CFCD). Also in the St James Circuit Court on Monday, three men — Omar Scott, Javaris Maxwell, and Josimar Richards — who had been accused of possessing identity information, were the latest to walk free because of the CFCD’s inability to provide reports that were crucial to the prosecution’s case — this after Chief Justice Bryan Sykes earlier this month expressed concern about the issue. Sykes pointed to the large number of alleged scammers who had walked free in the space of a few weeks while he was presiding over the Trelawny Circuit Court.
In response to the chief justice’s remarks, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn explained that systemic shortcomings at the CFCD had contributed to 52 cases being dismissed in Trelawny for the period in question.
She said the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the CFCD have been in constant discourse over the years and that there has been interaction with different levels of the police force hierarchy to determine the best way forward. However, she noted it was obvious that, notwithstanding the best efforts of the police, “there are long-standing and entrenched issues that undermine their timely provision of reports in lottery scamming matters”.
Among these issues, the DPP said, is the high turnover rate of highly qualified CFCD employees who are often lured by more lucrative offers; the feeling that there is a lack of opportunity for career advancement within the CFCD; and the high case load which is becoming even more onerous as cyber-related cases increase.