Case against immigration boss opens 3yrs after arrest

Cayman News Service
Jeannie Lewis

(CNS): The assistant chief immigration officer for compliance, Jeannie  Lewis (59), finally had her day in court on Wednesday, three years after she was arrested during a bust at her home in Savannah. Lewis is accused of allowing her sons to deal drugs from that home and knowingly harbouring an illegal immigrant, charges she emphatically denied when she appeared in the witness box. She said the raid was not only shocking but frightening as she had no idea what was going on.

While drugs were seized at the home on the morning of 20 August 2016, Lewis said that she had no idea the drugs were there. She said she had taken a strict position on ganja and when she learned her eldest son had been experimenting with drugs after he had been injured playing football, she had told a police colleague of her concerns and arranged for him to talk to her then teenage son.

Lewis told the court that she did not know her sons or any of their friends that frequented the home were smoking in her yard, as she said they knew that if she was aware she would call the police and there “would be hell to pay”.

She also told the court that she was entirely unaware of the immigration status of the man who the crown claimed had been staying at her home for at least two weeks.

Lewis said that the man was a friend of her sons and she had no idea whatsoever that he had arrived in Cayman illegally. She said she had spoken to him only in passing when he was at the house on two occasions with her son and heard him speak with an American accent. She said she did not believe he had been staying at her home and did not even know he was there on the day the police raided the house until everyone was arrested.

She said she could never have imagined anyone who was an illegal immigrant would come to her house. She said there was nothing to indicate to her that he had arrived in Cayman by boat, and that given his accent and clean presentation, she assumed he was from the United States. She said that from her own experiences, people who land illegally are almost always either from Cuba or Jamaica and usually arrive looking extremely weather beaten and disheveled.

“It never crossed my mind that he was illegal,” she told the prosecutor, as he asked her why she had not quizzed the man about where he was from or how he had got to Cayman. She explained that he was a friend of her sons and that she had accepted that. “The last thing in the world that I would think is that someone visiting my yard was an illegal,” Lewis told the court.

She denied turning a blind eye to what was happening in her home and said she had no idea about the drugs or the status of her sons’ friend. Lewis said she has always been a “clean officer, and I have never had any problems”, adding that she had even called a member of the drug task force when she learned one of her sons was messing with drugs.

The court heard that Lewis, who has now been on required leave from her senior post for three years, had worked at immigration for more than 30 years and never had a single infraction on the job. They heard she had a clean police record, with not even a speeding ticket to her name, and had never been arrested in her life before or since the raid.

The case continues.


Category: Courts, Crime

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