Senior immigration officer charged with DUI, leaving scene

Gary Wong stays on job for now

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Driving under the influence, careless driving and leaving the scene of an accident charges were filed this week against the Immigration Department’s head of enforcement.  

Garfield “Gary” Wong, the deputy chief immigration officer, was informed of the charges but declined to comment when contacted by the Caymanian Compass.  

Mr. Wong was arrested in connection with a traffic accident early Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013, according to the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.  

A statement from the RCIPS issued Thursday read: “[Wednesday], a Bodden Town Police officer formally charged a 47-year-old male with traffic offenses of leaving the scene of an accident, driving under the influence, and careless driving. He was bailed to appear before the Traffic Court, George Town, Monday.  

“These charges transpired out of a two-vehicle accident that occurred on Dec. 28, 2013 just after midnight [in] Lower Valley, Bodden Town, involving a Dodge Ram Truck and a BMW motor car.” 

The police statement did not identify Mr. Wong, but he had previously been identified as the person arrested in connection with the incident.  

A statement from the RCIPS issued on Dec. 30 stated: “There was a motor vehicle accident on Shamrock Road, Lower Valley, Saturday 12.57 a.m. A vehicle was pushed into the bush with major damages. 

“There were minor injuries in the accident. One person was arrested [on suspicion of] DUI and leaving the scene of an accident,” police said.  

The Ministry of Home Affairs, which has oversight responsibility for the Immigration Department, was contacted Thursday regarding Mr. Wong’s employment status, 

Acting Chief Officer Kathryn Dinspel-Powell said Thursday that Mr. Wong would remain on the job pending the outcome of the court case.  

Mrs. Dinspel-Powell said this was in line with principles set forth in civil service personnel regulations and with the principles of natural justice and fairness, nothing that Mr. Wong was only accused of various offenses at this point.  

“Historically, the [civil] service has not taken a position to discipline civil servants who are convicted of traffic offenses, including those that [Mr.] Wong has been charged with,” she said. “I am therefore going to advise that this remains our position and that, in the event that he is found guilty of some/all of the charges, the matter may be revisited. 

“In the interim, he will continue to report to work.” 

In December, ministry deputy chief officer Wesley Howell said civil service personnel regulations would require a civil servant to be placed on leave if they were charged with a criminal offense. DUI is considered a traffic offense, not criminal. The other issues would be considered offenses under the Traffic Law as well.  

Mr. Wong, a career Cayman Islands immigration officer, took the deputy chief’s role on Oct. 1, 2009. During his tenure, collection of fines for immigration-related offenses have increased significantly. 

One of Mr. Wong’s immigration career highlights was his work with the enforcement unit during the Cuban refugee crisis on Grand Cayman in the early 1990s. His efforts earned him the Queen’s Certificate and Badge of Honour. 

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Mr. Wong
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