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BRIBERY CHARGE

INSPECTORS IN DOCK

CASE FOR DEFENCE OPENED

The trial of two Government food ration inspectors, Joseph Walshaw Harvey, aged 58, (Mr. Trimmer) and Anthony Charles Lockery, aged 30, (Mr. Henry), before Mr. Justice Cornish and a jury, on charges of demanding £50 by menaces from Steve Lunjevich, storekeeper, Herekino, and of bribery and corruption by accepting £50 with intent to interfere with the administration of justice, was continued to-day.

Mr. G. S. R. Meredith conducted the Crown case.

Steve Lunjevich, who had testified that accused visited his store as food ration officers, checked his coupons and, 'when a considerable sugar shortage was revealed, accepted £50 from him to "square two officers higher up," was cross-examinvl at length by Mr. Henry on the details of the check-up on coupons. Police-Sergeant H. J. Harrington testified that, by arrangement, he watched S. Lunjevich hand over to Lockerv bank notes to the value of £50 which had been supplied to Lunjevich for the purpose on hearing his complaint .that accused had demanded that sum. Witness and a constable watched from concealment in the store. At the time, Lunjevich said: "I have seen the boss and we have decided to pay the money. He said also he wanted a guarantee there would be no prosecution and one of the men said if he said nothing there would be no prosecution but he could expect a severe letter from the head office. One of them told Lunjevich that in future if he had shortages he should apply for them.

Concerning Bribes John S. Stewart, investigating and enforcement officer for food and rationing control, said the two accused were rationing inspectors, duly appointed. To Mr Trimmer witness said the accused had a high reputation in the Department. Witness interviewed Lunjevich in July when he admitted having made false returns for the past twelve months, being then about 39 bags of sugai short. This could not be accounted by ordinary wastage and loss by rats. The allowance for wastage was 21- per cent. ' . , "Witness said the Department had not issued instructions on the matter of bribes, but he understood that at a conference in Wellington the question had been mentioned by the controller. He did not himself hear it discussed To his Honor the witness said the conference was in the nature of a refresher course, but no official memo was issued in regard to bribes. There had been cases of bribes offered to inspectors. There was nothing in the regulations concerning bribes. He knew that inspectors had rejected bribes offered, and he approved that policy. His view was that any offer of a bribe should be refused and the matter reported. In such a case as this arising in the country where police advice was available he would expect the inspector to seek such advice or else ask the advice of the rationing officer. The accused did not in this case consult the rationing officer. At Mr. Henry's request the witness was asked if there was any official policy forbidding inspectors to receive bribes as evidence against the storekeeper, and he said there was no policy forbidding the receipt of bribes with such intent. Opening the case for the defence, Mr. Trimmer said evidence would be given to show that at a conference of inspectors at Wellington in May the question of bribes was discussed and the suggestion made that the best way to deal with bribes was to take the bribe and pay it into the public accounts on return to Auckland. The local inspectors agreed that this was the best way to deal with bribes. Then the two accused went on their northern tour, in the course of which the present incident occurred. They found that Lunjevich had a sugar shortage of 44 bags, almost a ton and half, and he told them, they would say, that he would pay £200 to get out of the trouble. When Lunjevich produced coupons later reducing the shortage to 25 bags they were suspicious of where the coupons came from, and decided, if he offered a bribe, to accept it and so seal the guilt of Lunjevich. They asked to see the young man's father, but he was not brought forward, and when the offer of £50 was made the accused decided to take it and pay it in to the public account. Meantime they continued to make examination at shipping companies of Lunjevich's bookings of sugar. When the offer was made of the bribe the accused acted the part to get it, but the unexpected entry of the police prevented them from carrying out their plan, and the police, believing them guilty of an offence, gave them no opportunity to communicate with the food controller.

Evidence by Accused Joseph W. Harvey, one of the accused, testified 'on the lines indicated by counsel. He said<that when Lockery and he had checked up the sugar stock in the store Lockery said, "The position is serious; I must see your father." Lunjevich several times repeated that he would pay anything rather than be prosecuted, and evenUially offered to pay £50 if the inspectors said nothing. He then said he would consult his father. When the inspectors returned later Lunjevich said he had found more coupons, which .reduced the sugar shortage very considerably. This made them suspicious and they proceeded to make outside inquiries about Lunjevich's sugar consignments before taking the offered bribe, with intent to pay the money into the office.

Detailing the circumstances of the payment, witness said Lunjevich was asked why his father was not there, and replied that "the old man had agreed to pay £50 not to prosecute." Lunjevich was told they could guarantee nothing, but he would get a letter from the head' office and probably another officer would be sent up. When the police intervened Lockery said: "This man is trying to bribe us and we are going to pay it into the publtf account." The sergeant said, "I know all about that." Lockery said, "You don't know what happened here yesterday," and the sergeant replied, "I know all about it." The sergeant, said witness, was hostile and aggressive, and when witness said, "Can't you help us, sergeant?" he replied, "It's too late now." Asked what he was arrested for, he was told, "blackmail, for which he could get three years." Lockery asked permission to ring up. his office, or his superior, and was refused. )

~ To Mr, Meredith, witness, said it ■was not the controller •who spoke at the conference on bribes; it was another executive. No threats of I prosecution ' were made by himself or Lockery to Lunjevich. It did not occur to witness that there was; enough evidence of bribery on the ' statement to the two inspectors to '. convict Lunjevich without taking the money. . , (Proceeding)

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Permanent link to this item

http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AS19450731.2.65

Bibliographic details

BRIBERY CHARGE, Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 179, 31 July 1945

Word Count
1,135

BRIBERY CHARGE Auckland Star, Volume LXXVI, Issue 179, 31 July 1945

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