Man accused of defrauding reggae icon

June 15, 2022

A Corporate Area man, who was released from one of the island's penal institutions in April 2021, has found himself before the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court for allegedly defrauding US$30,000 (approximately $4.5 million) from veteran reggae singer Marcia Griffiths.

Ray Morgan yesterday pleaded not guilty to two counts of obtaining money by means of false pretence. Morgan rose to national prominence after it was reported that he was trying to file an appeal against a conviction after he was sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment for four counts of fraud in the then-named Resident Magistrates' Court. Shortly after his dilemma was aired, he was released from prison.

But yesterday, prosecutors alleged that Griffiths was introduced to Morgan last year and was told that he was interested in purchasing properties to be used in building a museum to preserve the singer's legacy. It is alleged that the property attracted a cost of US$2 million (approximately $304 million) and Morgan, along with his alleged overseas colleagues, would finance the construction of the museum. Sometime in July, Morgan told Griffiths that he would communicate with his overseas partners to expedite the process. He proposed that he would lend the reggae singer US$500,000 to purchase the property.

The court heard that Griffiths was told that purchasing the property would require US$30,000 in stamp duty and taxes. Morgan allegedly told Griffiths that she should pay over the monies to him. He later received them via wire transfer. Following this payment, Griffiths made several attempts to contact Morgan, who stopped answering her calls. However, when he did, it is alleged that he gave reasons for the delays. The daughter of Griffiths' friend, who introduced her to Morgan, decided to conduct background checks on the accused. It was then revealed that he was an ex-convict. Orville Morgan, the attorney representing the accused, told the court that his client is willing to make restitution in the matter. The lawyer submitted that his client be offered bail on humanitarian grounds as he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

However, Senior Parish Judge Lori-Anne Cole-Montaque denied the bail application.

"He just came out after a 12-year stretch last year April and, on the prosecution's case, has already committed himself already? Even at this surface level, he is not an appropriate candidate for bail. He is one defendant who is likely to reoffend. These allegations are serious. I take into account, yes, that he has a medical condition but the State is well prepared to take care of that. There is no court that should just turn a blind eye to his previous convictions," the senior judge opined.

A fingerprint order was made and Morgan was remanded in custody until September 8.

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