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Five in court charged with $4m bank heist
Five men accused of robbing Republic Bank of over $4 million earlier this month appeared before a Sangre Grande magistrate yesterday and were granted bail totalling $6.4 million. Of the five, three were charged with a similar offence on January 17 at the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) branch at S&S Persad Supermarket, Guayaguayare Road, Mayaro.
The three—Navin Juteram, 34, Chaitram Mohammed, 27, and Kumar Narine, 21—are jointly charged with two other men with robbing two men using personal violence and attempting to break and enter the automated banking machine (ABM). They are to re-appear in court on March 24 with their co-accused at the Mayaro Magistrates Court. The trio and Jason Villafana, 41, are accused of breaking and entering RBL on March 1 and stealing the money.
Juteram and the fifth accused, Sateesh Boodram, 33, are also charged with receiving money knowing it to be stolen arising from the robbery at the Sangre Grande Branch of RBL. Juteram is alleged to have received $46,800 while Boodram allegedly received $2.1 million of the loot. A sixth man, a former police officer who retired as an inspector and became a defence attorney, was arrested in connection with the robbery over the weekend.
However, after consultation with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) no charges were laid against him and he was released. The men were represented by attorneys Shivan Jadoo, Dinesh Narine and Shivanand Dubay, and will re-appear in court tomorrow after the prosecutor requested time for police to acquire into their criminal record. Mohammed told the magistrate he had two convictions for stealing yam and sheep.
The men were arrested and charged by Insp Wayne Doodhai of the Fraud Squad and Cpl Rachar of the Sangre Grande Police Station. Police say they have recovered $2.1 million of the stolen money and have another suspect in custody who was arrested yesterday and who was assisting them.
Police reported that around 12.30 am March 1 they received a report from the security company which provides surveillance for the Sangre Grande branch of Republic Bank that the back door of the bank was open. They also found the vault emptied of its contents, which had included deposit boxes and cash, including US, English, Eastern Caribbean and European Union currency.\
When the accused men appeared before Magistrate Ejenny Espinet, court prosecutor Sgt Rameshwar Gopaul did not object to bail but asked for the men to report to the police station nearest them. All five have to report on Mondays and Thursdays to their respective police stations. Juteram, of Mohammed Drive, Sangre Grande, was granted $1 million bail and ordered to report to the Sangre Grande Police Station.
Mohammed, of Vega de Oropouche, Toco Main Road, Sangre Grande, was granted $1.3 million bail and ordered to report to the Sangre Grande Police Station. Villafana, of Guaico Village, Sangre Grande, had the same reporting condition and was granted $900,000 bail. Narine, of Freeport, was granted $1.2 million and ordered to report to the Freeport Police Station. Boodram, of Dinsley Gardens, Trincity, was ordered to report to the Arouca Police Station and was granted $1 million bail.