A Bahamian man who married a second Jamaican woman without divorcing his first Jamaican bride was on Thursday sentenced to one year in prison.
Lavardo Ferguson, 36, of Pinewood Gardens, pleaded guilty to entering into a fictitious marriage and making a false declaration at his arraignment before Senior Magistrate Carolyn Vogt-Evans.
Ferguson married his first wife, Rokelle Brown, on October 11, 2011. He married Christina Dunkley on March 10, 2022 without first divorcing Brown.
Ferguson obtained a marriage license for the second union on February 22, 2022 by falsely claiming that he was a bachelor.
On the day of his bigamous marriage, Ferguson also falsely declared that he was single.
On March 13, 2023, Registrar General Camille Gomez-Jones contacted police and reported that Ferguson and Dunkley came to the office seeking information about Ferguson’s divorce to Brown.
A check of the records showed that Ferguson was still married to his first wife.
During her interview with police, Dunkley said that she and Ferguson began dating in April 2021. She said she learned about his first marriage when they went to the National Insurance Board (NIB).
Ferguson, who was unrepresented at his court appearance, said he was unaware of the divorce procedure.
He claimed that his first wife’s lawyer came to his home a year after they wed and served him with divorce papers, which he signed.
Ferguson said he was of the mistaken belief that signing the papers ended his marriage.
He said he had not heard from or seen his first wife since he signed those papers.
Ferguson said he learned that he was still legally married to Brown when he and his new wife went to register his wife at NIB so that she could get a job.
According to the prosecutor, Ferguson’s second bride had overstayed her visitor’s visa and was being sought by immigration officials.
In mitigation, Ferguson said he worked as a security guard at The Nassau Guardian and had two daughters with two other women.
In sentencing, Vogt-Evans said, “The defendant has breached a fundamental and sacred sacrament, that is the union of marriage, ordained by God. The state of the immigration crisis in this country is that breaches of this kind allows persons to bypass the proper channels of their entry and residence into The Bahamas. Therefore, this is a most serious offense.”
Vogt-Evans said that the court had to send a strong message to would-be offenders.