Former PNM Candidate Charged With $5 Million Fraud

PORT-OF-SPAIN, AN Arouca woman who was the People’s National Movement (PNM) candidate for the Arouca/Maloney Constituency in the 2007 general election was on April 10 granted $450,000 when she appeared before a Port of Spain magistrate accused of stealing close to $.5 million from several people over a two-year-period.

But even though bail was granted to 40-year-old Rose Maria Smith, who also goes by the name Rose Howai, of Cedar Drive, Arouca, on the matters to be heard in the Port of Spain Court, she will spend at least until April 19 in prison custody since bail was denied on the matters to be heard in the Arima Court.

Smith, who was charged by Fraud Squad officers, appeared before Magistrate Cheron Raphael in the Eleventh Court charged with the larceny offences which supposedly took place between March 2014 and September 2016 in the Piarco, Maloney, Arouca, Port of Spain and San Juan areas.

She is accused of stealing the sums of $33,415, $24,595, $74,400, $25,000, 178,660, $93,000, $24,770 and US$3,391, a grand total of approximately $477,580.
When she appeared before the magistrate shortly before 11 a.m., Smith pleaded not guilty to the offences which were alleged to have taken place in Port of Spain and San Juan. On the matters that allegedly took place in Maloney, Arouca and Piarco, she was not called upon to plead as they were laid indictably.

Defence attorney Herbert Charles made and application for bail saying his client had a fixed place of abode and would not abscond if bail was granted. He admitted however, that the woman has a matter pending before the Arima Court for impersonating an attorney. He added that his client was a former secretary of government minister and attorney Peter Taylor and also had siblings who are members of the protective services.

In 2007, after being selected to contest the Arouca/Maloney seat, Smith was arrested and charged by Fraud Squad detectives for allegedly defrauding five people of a total of $733,020. Charles stated however that those charges have since been dismissed.

She has since filed action in the High Court against the State for defamation of character stemming from the charges.

In response to the application for bail, police prosecutor Sgt Joseph Logan objected to bail saying that Smith provided officers with a particular address which she claimed to be the location where she lived but when checks were made, the owner of the house, Smith ex-husband informed the officers she no longer resided there. Logan went on to say that as a condition of the bail bond on the charge of impersonating an attorney, Smith was required to report to Arouca police weekly but never did so since first appearing in court last October. Since then she never again attended court and officers were unable to locate her. It was only last Wednesday that she was arrested close to the High Court in Port of Spain, he said.

Charles however, contended that the reporting conditions on that matter was removed and this was why his client never presented herself to Arouca police.
After listening to submissions from both sides, Magistrate Raphael granted the bail bond on the Port of Spain matters but refused bail on the other.

“The Arima Court will deal with bail for the matters before it,” said Raphael.

As a condition of her bail, Smith is required to report to Arouca officers every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. She will next appear in the Port of Spain Court on May 5 and the Arima Court on April 1.