Two corrections officers were sentenced to prison yesterday for defrauding the government with a sick slip scam.
Mercette Pinder and Aryett Lightbourne, who both worked at the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services for four years, will experience prison life as inmates instead of overseers.
In passing sentence, Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt told both men that their conduct was unacceptable and that as law enforcement officers they were held to a higher standard.
Ferguson-Pratt sentenced Pinder to 60 days’ imprisonment, fined him $1,000 and ordered him to repay the $1,516.14 that he received while pretending to be sick.
Lightbourne, who defrauded the government out of $360.96 by ducking work and justifying his absence with a fake sick certificate, was sentenced to 40 days in prison. He was also fined $1,000 and ordered to repay the illegally obtained money.
They will both spend an additional three months in prison if they don’t pay the fines or compensation.
Police arrested the men after Commissioner of Corrections Charles Murphy questioned the validity of the sick certificates that they had presented excusing them from work.
Pinder missed work from November 24, 2018 through December 11, 2018 by presenting two sick certificates. The first certificate was dated November 24 through December 1, 2018 and the second from December 2 to December 11, 2018.
For his part, Lightbourne missed a total of six days from work in 2019, by presenting sick slips dated from May 8 through 10 and June 9 to June 11. Consequently, Lightbourne fraudulently obtained $360.96 in pay.
Investigations revealed that neither officer had been seen by a doctor at Princess Margaret Hospital, the court heard.
Medical Chief of Staff Dr. Caroline Garraway confirmed that whoever signed the slips was not a doctor at the hospital.
In their police interviews, both men claimed that they attended the hospital but confirmed that they were not seen by a doctor.
According to Pinder, a person identified only as Nurse Knowles gave him the bogus sick slips.
On the first occasion, he allegedly paid $15 and $25 the second time.
As for Lightbourne, he claimed that he went to hospital for a stomach flu on both occasions. However, Lightbourne said he never saw a doctor because of the protracted registration process.
Lightbourne alleged that a Filipino nurse gave him the sick slips.