By Innocent Anaba
An American, Ms Sharon Denis Thorpe, was Wednesday sentenced to a 24-year prison term with hard labour by a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, for forging and counterfeiting 200 foreign bank cheques valued at about N6 million.
Trial judge in the matter, Justice Akinjide Ajakaiye,Â handed down the sentence after Thorpe, who was brought before the court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, along side a Nigerian, Mr Musediku Kehinde, on a 13-count charge of forgery and counterfeiting, pleaded guilty to all the counts.
She was sentenced to two years each on the 12-count her name appeared in.
Thorpe, 27, wept throughout the proceeding and Kehinde, who, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge, were said to have been arrested while trying to export the foreign cheques without lawful authority in February this year in Lagos.
They were accused by the anti-graft agency of being inÂ possession of 200 foreign bank cheques, knowing them to be counterfeits and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 5(1) (b) of the Counterfeit Currency (Special Provisions) Act.
They were also accused of knowingly and fraudulently forging eight foreign banks cashier cheques valued at $40, 223, thereby committed an offence punishable under section 1(2) (a) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act.
According to the EFCC, the accused persons had on them, cheques of Banner Bank, Mountain America Federal Credit Union, Citizens Bank, Pinnacle Bank, Fifth Third Bank, Amsouth Bank, M &T Bank and Timberwood Bank.
The court in its judgement said, â€œI felt like letting her go but it will send a wrong signal to others because the offence is indeed very serious but putting into consideration her repentance, I hereby sentence her to two-year jail term on each count with hard labour amounting to 24 years.â€