The family members of Percy Thomas are adamant that their nephew Roger Monroe the PNM’s candidate for Toco/Sangre Grande has been telling half-truths to the media.
They are refuting allegations that they had abandoned their ailing father and are also asking the police to reopen a fraud investigation into Monroe for allegedly using an expired power of attorney to withdraw money from his grandfather’s (Percy Thomas) account two days after he died on February 7, 2015.
But on a walkabout in the Valencia area on Wednesday evening when confronted by Guardian Media investigative team with documents in hand and asked about the allegations, Monroe said “my hands are clean,” and indicated that his lawyers were dealing with the matter and could say nothing more on the subject.
It was the first time that Monroe revealed in any measure that he was locked in a legal battle with his aunts and uncles over alleged financial impropriety.
At least five of Thomas’s children spoke exclusively to Guardian Media last week indicating that contrary to what Monroe had told another newspaper, that there was compelling evidence in their possession to back up their claims about a particular financial transaction he (Monroe) conducted following the passing of their father.
They were also pursuing other legal action as it pertains to their father’s multimillion-dollar estate he left behind but were told by their lawyers not to ventilate the matter in the public arena.
Two months before Percy Thomas passed away of stage 4 Lymphoma, he had a power of attorney document prepared, which Guardian Media obtained allowing Monroe to execute any business on his behalf or handle any banking transactions and other business – but this power of attorney also stated that “and I hereby declare that these presents shall continue in full force and effect during the interval between the date of my death and the date upon which notice in writing of my death is received…”
Effectually this meant once Thomas passed away the power of attorney no longer had any valid legal standing.
Two days after Thomas died, on February 9, Monroe according to Thomas’s children attempted to withdraw $27,000 from an account in which he (Percy) was the secondary holder on the account, and his son Dexter Thomas the primary holder at the RBC Sangre Grande home branch.
Dexter Thomas provided Guardian Media with an interim summary statement showing transaction details of the account from January 10, 2014 to February 25, 2015. “The bank tellers informed me about the transaction and told Roger Monroe he could not receive the money because daddy had died and as you can see they had to credit the account back from the statement,” explained Dexter Thomas.
But hours later, Monroe went to the RBC Royal Bank branch in Arima on February 9, 2016, and withdrew $27,000 from the same account, which banking officials had prevented him from doing earlier that day.
The withdrawal slip obtained by Guardian Media showed that on the slip it was signed Roger Monroe “Ino (in care of) for Percy Thomas.”
“The reason why Roger went to RBC in Arima to withdraw the money, is because he could not take the money out from the RBC Sangre Grande home branch because everyone there knew the day my father died. How could he sign for my father if he had already died?” questioned another one of his sons Darren Thomas.
Thomas’s children said that they attempted for almost two years to convince Monroe to replace the money and when that did not work they reported the matter to the Fraud Squad department of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service.
Dexter Thomas the primary account holder of the RBC account in Sangre Grande wrote to Fraud Squad on December 26, 2016, stating he was disputing the withdrawal on $27,000 made from his account by Monroe on February 9, 2015. In the letter that Guardian Media also obtained Thomas said, “I returned home to lay him(my father) to rest.
On May 25, 2015, during a routine visit to RBC, I learned that my nephew Roger Monroe without permission or authority accessed my account using an expired “Power of Attorney” two days after my father’s death. I am asking that this Fraud Squad launch a formal investigation into this matter as I have not heard from my nephew regarding this matter, thus I have not been able to recover my funds. My nephew has distanced himself from the rest of the family, and openly admits to removing these funds from my account.”
On February 3, 2017 Darren Thomas made an official police report to the Fraud Squad in Port of Spain that was taken by a corporal.
Shortly thereafter another corporal was assigned to look into the case.
Eight months into the investigation in early October, Monroe apparently replaced the money into Dexter Thomas’s account.
On October 20, the investigating corporal called Darren Thomas and said,” there was nothing else the police could do.”
The Thomas family said they were mortified by the police actions. “It’s not the putting back of the money that is troubling here, it’s the fact that he allegedly used an expired document to withdraw the money and that’s where the problem lies,” said Dexter Thomas while speaking to us on a zoom meeting with his siblings early last week.
The family claimed that the investigating corporal in question who halted the investigation had in the past taken loans from their father- who was also a money lender and they also claimed the corporal might have received some form of inducement.
Following this latest development, Darren Thomas said he visited the Professional Standards Bureau (PSB) in early 2018 and made a report about the suspected conduct of the corporal in the matter.
The PSB investigates errant police officers.
Thomas said to date the PSB has not responded.
He also submitted a letter to the Police Complaints Authority on April 29, 2019.
On May 31, 2019, the PCA wrote back indicating that they were unable to investigate the matter because more than a year had passed.
The PCA’s letter to Darren Thomas stated, “After reading your report and carefully considering its contents, it has been determined that while the allegations contained in the report may fall within the PCA’s investigative remit, it does not fall within the year limitation period under Section 27(1) of the Act nor are there any special circumstances which make it proper for the PCA to conduct an investigation under Section 27(2) of the Act.”
The Thomas family said that the police should reopen the investigation into Monroe and pleaded with Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith to peruse the documents submitted to the Fraud Squad and PSB.
“We have always been good to Roger, he grew up with us all and we treated him well,” said Karen Thomas speaking from her home in the United States last week.
Several pictures were provided by the family showing Munroe and his uncles and aunts in happier times in the years gone by.
It was only when their father was diagnosed in 2014, that the relationship between them and Monroe became frosty.
The family who had spoken to Guardian Media at least three weeks before he was nominated as the candidate for that area by the PNM said they had been trying for years to set the record straight and gave Munroe numerous chances to reconcile differences and “do the right thing.”
They strongly maintained they had no political agenda in this matter. They merely wanted to clear their family’s name that they claimed was tainted by Monroe.
“I would like the people of Toco/Sangre Grande to know that Roger Monroe was very unfair to his family. My family just wants it to be transparent and fair to us before he represents the people of Toco/Sangre Grande,” said Dexter Thomas.
Karen Thomas, one of his aunts said, “We all trusted Roger but when Daddy was sick I noticed that Roger started acting funny and when he passed away he was withdrawn to us and tried to bury daddy before we even got home. Two things we learned from the two million things Daddy thought us was family, family, family, and principle you need to remember that Roger.”
Another aunt Dawn Thomas also residing abroad said they were hurt by the statements made by Monroe, “I love my nephew Roger Monroe very much but I am very disappointed with him. You betrayed our trust as a family. I was the aunt that was there with you always when you moved to Sangre Grande I know that you are fully aware that my parents Percy and Yvonne worked hard and started 99 per cent of the business without any shame you said Daddy gave you everything. Dexter, Karen, Paula, and I was there with my parents with older children. Even David and Darren came along to help. Roger, you cannot be a PNM candidate- without being fair, honest and loyal and make PNM proud and not disappoint them and be fair to your family.”
Another one of Monroe’s aunts Daisha Thomas based in Atlanta, USA said she initially posted the message on Facebook about Monroe. “I figured that was the only way we could be heard it was a need to vent our frustration as a way Roger Monroe professing to be his brother’s keeper while he left his family hanging. My motive was to bring awareness to the PNM party and to the constituents of Sangre Grande/Toco. It is very unsettling for me to consider that this person void of a moral compass would be elected to lead in any capacity. What you all are seeing now and during the campaign is what we saw for years leading up to daddy’s passing,” said Daisha.
The Thomas family said they were also dealing with another legal matter concerning Monroe and their father’s estate.
They say they were advised by their attorneys not to speak in detail about the matter but said Monroe was expected to receive a pre-action protocol letter from their lawyers any day now.
Roger Monroe was questioned about the allegations by Guardian Media and following is the exchange:
Mark Bassant (MB): One of the things they claim is that you used an expired power of attorney to withdraw money from his(Percy Thomas) Royal Bank account which I have here with me. You first went to the Sangre Grande branch where you were told by the tellers because he had died on February 7th that you could not withdraw.
Roger Monroe (RM): So what I can tell you is that matter is before the hands of my attorney and I will leave that right there.
MB: But you went that said day to the Arima branch……(Monroe interrupts)
RM: That matter is at the hands of my attorneys and I don’t want to jeopardize anything I leave that right there.
MB: But this is your signature here for Mr Thomas knowing that he already died. This is what I am asking.
RM: Sir that matter is at the hands of my attorney and I have been instructed not to make any comments.2:40
MB: Obviously your constituents want somebody who is transparent and fair to them and how does this affect your ability seeing in light of these allegations being made by your close family members.
RM: As you said earlier on its allegations my hands are clean and all will be revealed in due time, sir.
When Monroe was questioned about why the relationship between his aunts and uncles in the Thomas family had grown apart, he said, “I have no comment.”