Fyzabad Secondary principal Troy Jebodhsingh and physical education teacher Nigel Lakhan appeared before a San Fernando court today on multiple fraud-related offences related to their registration of school footballers Dez Jones and Maurice Dick.
Jones, a former Siparia Secondary student who captained Fyzabad Secondary this season, and Dick, a former Moruga Secondary student, were both enrolled in lower sixth form on the basis of fraudulent CXC transcripts, which claimed they had four passes each.
The Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) Executive unearthed the discrepancy—after a probe was requested by Trinity College Moka—and the matter was relayed to the Ministry of Education and then the Fraud Squad. Fyzabad were ejected from the SSFL Premier Division while Jebodhsingh subsequently suspended his team’s entire football programme in both the girls’ and boys’ divisions.
Jebodsingh, 50, faces six charges which include four counts of misbehaviour in public office and two counts of uttering forged CXC certificates. The school principal, who was a police officer for four years, has been in the Teaching Service for 27 years. He was represented by attorney Chateram Sinanan.
Lakhan, 41, will also answer six charges, two counts of uttering forged certificates to school supervisor Zabeedah Abid, two for uttering forged application forms to the SSFL and two counts of forgery. The PE teacher has been a member of the Teaching Service for 21 years. He was represented by attorney Chris Ramlal.
The DPP on Wednesday evening advised the police to charge the two teachers, following investigations led by Head of the Fraud Squad, Totaram Dookhie. The charges were laid by Sergeant Earl Smith of the Fraud Squad.
Jones and Dick were questioned but not charged while coach Brian Williams, a Trinidad and Tobago national youth team coach and former Strike Squad standout, was not implicated.
Jones and Dick maintained that they had no part in the fraud. Both teenagers told Wired868, in an interview last month, that Lakhan requested their exam certificates and never returned them. They were then told that they would be allowed to enter Form Six at the school.
“I just carried what the school asked for, [which was] my original document and birth paper,” said Dick. “I don’t know what they did after that… It is really the administration in the school and whoever had my certificate at the time.”
Dick, who had just one CXC pass in physical education, was taking sixth form classes in business, accounts, physical education, entrepreneurship and communication when the fraud was discovered.
When last month Wired868 contacted Jones, who had two CXC passes, he was not sure what form or class he was supposed to be in—despite already being six weeks into the school term. When the Fraud Squad interviewed the two players, they are believed to have found Jones working on a construction site.
“They asked if I want to come back and play school football,” said Jones, in a previous interview. “And I said ‘yeah, I want to come and play.’ And then I went training…”
Lakhan and Fyzabad vice-principal Suresh Roopnarine told the SSFL that the two boys duped them and somehow danced around the process for vetting students, which saw their documents pass through the school’s screening committee, Principal Jebodhsingh and the school supervisor.
However, only Lakhan and Jebodhsingh will answer for the crime in court.
Both Jebodhsingh and Lakhan were placed on a total of TT$120,000 bail with a total cash alternative of TT$15,000. The principal’s bail will cover the matters in San Fernando and Siparia while Lakhan’s will cover the charges in the three areas, San Fernando, Couva and Siparia.
They will both reappear in the different courts next week.