ORANGE WALK TOWN, Fri. Aug. 28, 2020– On Wednesday, Constable Reginald Diego, Jr., 39, of Libertad, Corozal District, who is attached to the Orange Walk police and was charged with extortion, was released on bail of $5,000 by the Orange Walk Magistrate’s Court.
He was able to meet bail and was ordered to return to court on September 30.
Commissioner of Police Chester Williams said today that after Diego exited the court after posting bail, he went to The People’s Store, where he stole a quart of rum and a bottle of beer, then left the store.
Police were called, and Diego was subsequently charged with theft. He will again be prosecuted for the offense in the Orange Walk Magistrate’s Court, and he will again be charged internally by police for bringing the Police Department into disrepute and for violation of Police Codes of Conduct.
Commissioner Williams said that Diego has been put on interdiction, and that he will be tried for the extortion offense under the new Statutory Instrument (SI) that was drafted to deter policemen from accepting bribes from persons arrested for COVID-19 Safety Rules violations and other offenses.
Under this new legislation, a policeman found guilty of extorting members of the public or accepting bribes will be sentenced to a year in prison, and likewise, any person found guilty of offering bribes to a police officer will receive a one-year jail sentence.
This new SI came into effect on Tuesday. The Police Commissioner said that the Statutory Instrument was drafted because the department has received numerous complaints from members of the public who say they were extorted by police officers who took advantage of the Quarantine Regulations by seeking payments from these members of the public, whom they accused of offenses which could result in a $5,000 fine or imprisonment.
The extortion incident for which Diego was charged occurred on Sunday in Carmelita, at the police checkpoint near the Toll Bridge on the Philip Goldson Highway.
ACP Joseph Myvett said that an American visitor who was driving from the direction of Belize City to Orange Walk Town and was not wearing a mask on his face, was stopped by PC Diego at the vehicle checkpoint near the bridge.
PC Diego ordered him to get out of the vehicle and told him that he was committing an offense by not wearing a mask, and that the offense carries a fine of $5,000 and that they could settle the situation without court charges.
The American offered $50, but Diego did not take it, and the American then offered $300, which the policeman accepted, and he drove away without any charge. He apparently did not know that the law does not require persons who are driving in a vehicle to wear a mask.
The American, however, went to the Orange Walk Police Station and made a report and PC Diego was arrested.