BVI News

Final-year law student imprisoned for 2015 white-collar offences

File photo of Shekima Lettsome-Joseph (background) leaving court back in January 2017.

Final-year law student Shekima Lettsome-Joseph has been fined and given a 12-month prison sentence, for theft and operating a business without a trade license.

Lettsome-Joseph was handed her sentence when she appeared virtually before Magistrate Ayanna Baptiste-DaBreo on Monday, November 23.

The 35-year-old who is presently in quarantine after returning from the United Kingdom had pleaded guilty to stealing $44,500 from former police officer Earnest Gumbs and to operating a business without a trade license while she was a real estate agent in 2015.

In handing down the 12-month sentence, Magistrate Baptiste-Dabreo ruled that six of those months will be served at Her Majesty’s Prison at Balsam Ghut, while the other six will be suspended for one year.

This means she will only be made to serve the remaining six months sentence if she commits another crime within that one year.

For operating a business without a trade license, Lettsome-Joseph was fined $1,600 which must be paid by December 22, or she will have to serve an additional four months in prison.

Asked for mercy as conviction could ruin her career

In her final words to the court before sentencing, the aspiring attorney apologised to Gumbs, stating that she had already done so privately but wanted to give the former police officer a public apology.

She said she had always questioned her actions; adding that she should not have done the unlawful act since she was raised better.

In asking the court for mercy, she said the conviction would affect her potential career as an attorney as she was scheduled to complete her law degree in the United Kingdom in 2021.

Lettsome-Joseph who was represented by attorney Reynela Rawlins of PST Law was also charged with obtaining property by deception, forgery, and uttering forged documents.

However, these additional charges are all indictable matters that will be dealt with in the High Court.

How the money was stolen

Reports are that, back in 2015, Lettsome-Joseph presented herself as an agent of a firm called Perfection Realty. Gumbs, who was a police officer at the time, approached the offender because he wanted to sell a piece of land belonging to him at Johnson’s Ghut.

Based on an oral agreement between the two, the property was to be sold for $55,000.

Of that amount, the police officer was to get $44,500.

On March 30 of the said year, the land was sold and the relevant documents signed with the land purchaser in the presence of a notary public.

On the following day, Lettsome-Joseph, in a letter bearing Perfection Realty letterhead, reportedly instructed CIBC First Caribbean Bank to prepare a cheque in her name, adding that she is the agent involved in the sale of the police officer’s property.

The court further heard that, on April 14 of the same year, Lettsome-Joseph received the funds for the property. It was deposited in her account at Banco Popular.

Up to about two months later, none of the money was transferred to the police officer who owned the land. The officer reported the matter to the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force.

His colleagues, hours after receiving the report on June 5, went in search of Lettsome-Joseph. She was apprehended and charged.

 

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29 Comments

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  1. BuzzBvi says:

    Surprised the headline didn’t read “UK resident jailed for major crime.”

    Like 15
    Dislike 13
  2. so Sad says:

    This is sad. Hope she learn from her mistakes.

    Like 14
  3. oh no says:

    I cannot believe this. After 6 years she is still finishing a degree.

    Like 11
    Dislike 16
  4. The Nation says:

    And S***cy H*****s got a suspended sentence. Mmmm…is there true justice in this country? And police officers in the force are carrying on unlicensed business but nothing is done about it? So police officers are above the law but regular civilians are not. WOW…okay…

    Like 5
    Dislike 13
  5. The victim says:

    Did she (the convicted) get around to pay the victim for land and damages? I hope so,

  6. Reply says:

    What a mess. This is just a terrible story. This young lady was in the final year of law school, and quite frankly thru away her law career over pocket change, money that she could have made in no time once she finished law school.

    There is no way her law career can survive this conviction. You cannot be an officer of the court with a criminal record. I cannot imagine that she will be allowed to continue law school after she is released from prison.

    Despite she now has a criminal record, there is a part of me that feel badly for her knowing that she made a terrible mistake her. IMO, she should have stay focused on finishing law school rather than some business venture that has now ruined her law career.

    It is not easy getting into law school. I don’t understand how this young lady could have such lapse in judgement.

    Here is a piece of advise for others. Do not rush things in life. What God has for you will be for you. If it takes years, it will come to fruition. Have patience. Think twice before you act before you throw it all away.

    People like her, I wish I could have had their ear before things went South. Now, it’s too late. She has blanked up royally.

    Like 18
    Dislike 2
  7. Sue says:

    This to shall pass. Keep your heads above the waters.

    Like 9
    Dislike 8
  8. duck1951 says:

    what about restitution? Did the man ever get his money ? If not, she should pay it back

    Like 12
  9. Facts. says:

    She sounds like she will make a very good lawyer . Already knows most of the tricks.

    Like 19
    Dislike 2
  10. Mr Shovels says:

    Wow so many sympathetic comments all of a sudden for a person that’s guilty of a crime. I wonder what’s different here??3

    Like 13
    Dislike 1
  11. Hmm says:

    Yet still they got prisoners up there doing 6+ years for petty teft… The injustice in this place I guess it’s who you know..

    Like 10
  12. Hmmm says:

    Sign her up to be a Trump lawyer in 2024

    Like 4
    Dislike 3
  13. Doh says:

    That’s a great picture of her back side.

    Jus sayin

    Carry on

  14. Accra says:

    WHY DIDN’T THE HEADLINE MENTIONED WHICH COUNTRY SHE IS FROM? INTERESTING TO NOTE

    Like 4
    Dislike 3
  15. Accra says:

    Why didn’t the headline mentioned where she is from? Interesting to note… hmm

    Like 3
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    • BuzzBvi says:

      Because she is a UK resident and we do not want to bring more embarrassment too the Governor. Him being from there as well. VI has no criminals or corruption in VI so she not from here.

      Like 3
      Dislike 2
  16. Ethics says:

    Ethics, non existent in the BVI

    Like 6
    Dislike 2
  17. Shekima says:

    She is a very smart girl BUT for the wrong reasons.

  18. Crime pays says:

    Income $10,500 plus interest (or $55k if restitution has not been made), expense $1,600 plus a few months free board at Balsom hotel. No deterrent there.

  19. She *** me says:

    May you ***. More to come

  20. Local BVISLANDER says:

    Them most of you want to kill the Governor for saying that there’s corruption in the BVI.
    Need more proof?

    Like 6
    Dislike 1
  21. Simpson says:

    So I just read about a Bajan getting five years for two guns, one of which is prohibited. Am at a lost here! Which of the offences is more serious?
    Even the judge says it’s a very serious crime that the accuse man can’t even talk about him paying a fine. Hmmmmm

  22. Not a surprise says:

    This very “gentle” verdict doesn’t really comes as a surprise, given the fact that she is a local. I too … Oh, I almost forgot. One thing did happened. I was forced to leave the island after staying for over 7 years and building a successful business which also was a thorn in the side of several local competitors. That’s how “business” is done in the BVI’s. Always has and always will be. Good luck in future! You will need it. 😉

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