Bess charged for alleged role in extortion plot
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Dorwain Bess
Dorwain Bess

-wanted bulletin issued for Burke

SHORTLY after businessman Dorwain Bess appeared in the Vigilance Magistrate’s Court charged with two counts of conspiracy to defraud, police issued a wanted bulletin for APNU+AFC activist and US-based social media commentator Rickford Burke, who has also been linked to an alleged extortion plot which has led to two former reporters being charged.

Bess, 45, appeared before Magistrate Fabayo Azore on Thursday and denied the allegations. He was granted $100,000 bail on each charge.

Both incidents are in relation to the alleged plot by two reporters to extort money from businessman Afras Mohamed, in order to remove an offensive post that was published by Guyana News Network (GNN), a “slanderous” online entity.

Bess was arrested by ranks of the Police Major Crimes Unit at CID Headquarters, Eve Leary, on Monday

After announcing the bail, the magistrate ordered that he lodge his passport and report to officer-in-charge of the Major Crimes Unit or his deputy every Friday, starting from September 30. The matter was then adjourned to November 1.

Meanwhile, Burke is wanted by the police for “questioning in relation to conspiracy to commit a felony, to wit, publication of defamatory libel in order to extort money.”

Reports are that former reporters Gary Eleazer and Alex Wayne had named and implicated both Bess and Burke as being behind the post about Mohamed.

Eleazer and Wayne were caught shortly after they collected a sum of money from Mohamed in exchange for removal of the post.

It is alleged that the two reporters, between August 27 and September 23, 2022, at Lusignan, East Coast Demerara, conspired together with other persons to publish defamatory libel against Mohamed, with a view to extort the sum of $150,000.

The two reporters recently appeared before Senior Magistrate Azore at the Cove and John Magistrate’s Court and pleaded not guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit a felony. There were released on $200,000 bail each for allegedly conspiring with each other to extort money from Mohamed.

Rickford Burke

According to earlier reports from the police, Eleazar told investigators that he was contacted by Bess, who told him that Mohamed was evading taxes on imported vehicles and he subsequently wrote an article on the matter.

The said article, Eleazar reportedly told investigators, was then sent to Bess, who reportedly then sent it to a Burke, who added several paragraphs before it was then posted on the GNN Facebook page and website.

The police had issued a wanted bulletin for Bess.

Based on the report, the reporters admitted that they were among the admins on the GNN page. They reportedly revealed too that an APNU+AFC activist, Rickford Burke, is also an admin on the page.

Eleazer reportedly told investigators that he had access to the GNN website for over a year and was given the website’s password and username by Rickford Burke to manage the website; he subsequently uploaded about five articles to the site.

The police report also alleged that Eleazar said that he sent five articles targeting an individual and companies to Bess and Burke, who would then post the said articles to the GNN website and Facebook page.

According to the police, Mohamed, on August 29 filed a report to the police claiming that GNN posted an article with his photograph attached, alleging that he was involved in illegal activities. In a statement to the police, the businessman allegedly denied the claims and stated that it was an attempt to humiliate, embarrass, and cause him emotional distress.

As a result of the information given by Mohamed, the police conducted a sting operation and gave the businessman marked bills to give to the reporters. On September 23, Eleazar and Wayne were arrested by police along the East Coast of Demerara.

Eleazar reportedly told the police that he had access to the GNN website for over a year and was given the website’s password and username by Burke to manage the website. He admitted that he uploaded and wrote about five articles for the site.

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