Court hears ‘loan’ was offered after officer looked into report of stolen phone
A police officer accused of accepting a bribe told the court he thought the money was a loan.
Elvis Kelsey Ebanks, who is facing charges under the Anti-Corruption Law, told a Grand Court jury on Monday that he was offered a loan by a man whom he was driving home after responding to a report of a stolen cell phone.
He said he told the man he didn’t need the money, but after a third offer, decided to accept.
“It was a silly decision,” he added. Accepting a loan had affected his integrity, his career and everybody around him, he said.
The matter began on Nov. 10, 2012, when Ebanks was checking a report of a stolen cell phone at Auto Spa, where he met Christopher Bodden, the owner of the phone.
Ebanks approached Elmer Ferreras who had been pointed out to him in the drying area and found him in possession of Mr. Bodden’s phone.
Ebanks said Mr. Bodden indicated he just wanted his phone back, but the officer should give Ferreras a warning.
The owner/operator of Auto Spa, Joey Ebanks, upset that Mr. Bodden’s phone had been stolen from a car brought to his business for cleaning, pointed out that Mr. Ferreras was not even employed there, but that his brother-in-law was.
The owner asked the officer to take Mr. Ferreras off the compound and tell him never to return because he didn’t need negative publicity for his business.
After the officer spoke to Mr. Ferreras, he offered to give him a ride home. To offer a ride in such circumstances is not unusual.
During the ride, Mr. Ferreras, asked if the officer were taking him to the police station. Ebanks said he explained that the phone’s owner did not want an investigation, so there would be no further police involvement.
During the car ride, he said he told Mr. Ferreras: “As an example, I could do with $500. If I were to find someone’s wallet with $1,500 in it and I overlooked the fact that there was a driver’s license, credit card or other ways of identifying who that wallet belongs to … and I got $1,500, put it in my pocket because I could do well with the $500. He agreed that wasn’t the right thing to do. He then offered to loan me $500.”
Ebanks said he replied, “Thanks, but no, I don’t need it. I was just giving you an example of how easy it would be to get in trouble.”
Ebanks said Mr. Ferreras made the offer a second time and he replied, “Elmer, I don’t want your money. I was just giving you an example.”
When Mr. Ferreras again said he could lend him the money, and the defendant said he replied, “All right,” he would accept the loan.
He maintained this was an agreed loan and had nothing to do with the cell phone because that matter had been rectified.
He narrated the circumstances in which he collected money three days later in what he came to understand was a sting operation. At the lunch adjournment, he was being cross-examined by Trevor Ward, Deputy Director for Public Prosecutions.