Passport office worker charged with passport fraud

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Shekema Charles, an employee at the Antigua and Barbuda Passport Office, has been charged with five counts of conspiracy to forge the bio pages of Antigua and Barbuda passports.
It is alleged that she conspired with her partner, suspended Assistant Superintendent of Police Ray John, and his mother Yvonne Nickie, who were both charged with conspiracy to forge the country’s passports last April.
Charles, who surrendered to police on Monday after seeking legal advice following the issuance of a wanted bulletin by police last month, was also charged with one count of larceny on Tuesday afternoon. The information comes from a police source close to the probe.
She isn’t the only one facing the larceny charge, though. Last year John was also accused of larceny and receiving 54 multi-layered infilling sheets valued $21,700, and one multi-layered infilling patch, valued $1,300 – property of the Antigua and Barbuda Passport Office.
The case is still pending in the magistrate’s court.
Meanwhile, Charles of St. Johnston’s Village, is expected in court today and to be given a committal date.
The alleged passport scam was uncovered in early April 2018 when police in St. Vincent and the Grenadines intercepted a man at the airport with five bio pages of Antigua and Barbuda passports, among other items, including a large quantity of cash.
The police in that country have been collaborating with lawmen from Antigua and Barbuda since then, as fingers were pointed at ASP John.
On April 15 the police pulled his then 63-year-old mother from a flight that was set to depart Antigua, just days after lawmen searched John’s home at Gunthropes and confiscated numerous items as evidence.
Yvonne Nickie was at the time in Antigua visiting her son, ASP Ray John. During the search they were both told not to leave the state, but she proceeded with her plans to do just that.
Charles, who was only charged late yesterday, had been questioned last year around the same time John and his mom were picked up. She was released pending further investigations.
Lawmen then lost track of her and issued a wanted bulletin on December 20, followed by an arrest warrant about a week later.
Around noon on Monday police received information that Charles was at a lawyer’s office on St. Mary’s Street. But when they arrived there, they could not arrest her because she was inside consulting with her lawyer.
She subsequently turned herself in, accompanied by the attorney.

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