Charges laid against ex-SSA officials, cop

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

A screenshot of pastor Ian Brown during an interview with Power102 FM in March. –

Charges have been laid against two former employees of the Strategic Services Agency (SSA) and a police officer.

Newsday understands Ian Albert Ezekiel Brown, pastor of the Jerusalem Bride Church and self-proclaimed spy; Sgt Sherwin Waldron, who was formerly assigned to the Special Operations Response Team (SORT); and former security supervisor of the SSA Portell Griffith were charged late on May 20.

Senior police sources confirmed the three were back in custody earlier in the evening after investigators met with Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard, SC.

Just before 10 pm they were charged with multiple counts of misbehaviour in public office related to the alleged transfer and possession of firearms and ammunition. Two of the three were processed at the Barataria police station.

This latest development comes 24 hours after the three, along with fired SSA director Major Roger Best, had been released from custody.

Best was fired on May 18, which was announced in a statement from the Ministry of National Security that Minister Fitzgerald Hinds had advised acting President Nigel de Freitas to terminate Best’s appointment as director of the elite agency with immediate effect.

Best remained in police custody after police detained him for questioning on May 16, but was released late on Saturday night. Sources say investigators met with Gaspard late on Saturday and he ordered investigators to release all the suspects.

In early March, the Prime Minister, as head of the National Security Council, recalled retired Brig Gen Anthony Phillips-Spencer, ambassador to the US, to replace Best.

Dr Rowley announced Best’s suspension shortly after he met with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director and other top US intelligence officials ona trip to Washington, DC. Rowley said the reason for the decision was an impending threat to national security.

In mid-March, Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher Brown dismissed Brown as a special reserve police officer.

Thursday’s arrests followed a two-and-a-half-month-long investigation into a wide range of allegations against SSA agents and a series of interviews, including one with former CoP Gary Griffith.

Police searched the homes of Best and the others simultaneously shortly afterwards. Investigators searched for electronic devices to be examined for communications data and stored data by the police cyber and social media unit.

The four were questioned about the transferring of two Sig Sauer SMGX firearms, two Sig Sauer 516 rifles with optic and an assortment of ammunition from the police to the SSA on May 17.

On May 18, more interviews were done.

On May 19, Dr Rowley told reporters the scandal at the organisation had blindsided the government.

Speaking with the media at Piarco Airport after a trip to Ghana and India, Rowley said the government had nevertheless acted quickly and decisively.

He said little about what the ongoing audit into the agency has found, but added, “We expect that we will rectify it and return the agency to its purpose.”