Philipsburg:--- Former secretary to several Lt. Governors of St. Maarten and long time civil servant Ines Evelyn Hodge was convicted on Wednesday by the Court of First Instance for committing fraud during the BTA 2 procedure. Judge Keppels convicted Hodge to six months suspended sentence with three years probation. She was found guilty on one charge which is the falsification of documents. The judge found that Evelyn Hodge backdated documents for two persons namely Tamara Odetta Carr and James Walcott Jones. According to the judge's decision, the two persons saw Hodge in the month of January and she backdated their application forms to December 29th and 30th. The judge also rejected all three of the defense's arguments which was presented by Attorney at Law Cor Merx. Merx asked the court to dismiss the charges because in his opinion the prosecution tried to entrap Hodge, while her rights to equal treatment were violated because the Minister of Justice Roland Duncan was not charged. Merx also said the case should have been thrown out because he did not get the documents belonging to Tamara Odetta Carr. However, the judge said she adjourned the case and gave the defense time to study the documents and at no time did the defense ask for a postponement to further study the documents so in the court's opinion the defense had enough time to study Carr's documents.
The judge also made clear that the defense did not provide the court with any proof to show that the Minister of Justice knew or approved the backdating of the documents. The court also stated that the prosecution refuted the statements sufficiently and Evelyn Hodge did falsify the documents.
The court of First Instance also cited the report made up by former Lt. Governor Denis Richardson and Joan Dovale Meit as a contributing factor because it clearly states that because of the lack of written instructions, guidelines, and supervision there was chaos at the BTA office located on A.T. Illidge Road. However, the court finally decided to go along with the prosecution's request which was to impose a six months suspended sentence on Hodge and three years of probation.
Hodge who was accompanied to court by her ageable mother dressed in a black skirt and blouse when she reported to the court for the judge's decision. Her attorney, Cor Merx told SMN News that he and his client were considering the possibility of filing an appeal against the verdict delivered on Wednesday.
Hodge left the court room in tears when she heard what the presiding judge said about the reasons she gave for the conviction. However, she was later seen at the Government Administration Building in lighter mood. When asked by SMN News if she will appeal the sentence, Hodge said she will not because the suspended sentence runs until December 2012.
On May 23rd, Evelyn Hodge admitted to the court that she committed fraud based on verbal instructions of Minister of Justice Roland Duncan. The judge in her ruling said that Hodge could not provide any proof to the court that she acted based on orders of the Minister of Justice because there was nothing in writing by the Minister as per his instructions on how to handle the BTA2 project.