Liberia: Monrovia City Court Investigates ‘Forged’ Bond Signatures Claim

William Wisseh Pritchard, one of the men being investigated


Lawyer, Court Officers at the center of probe

The Monrovia City Court is investigating a complaint that some court officers and a lawyer produced a bond with forged signatures to have a defendant released on bail. 

The bond, which Stipendiary Magistrate Ben Barco accepted, led to the release of defendant Sylvester Roger.  The embarrassing situation has pushed Barco to probe Roger’s lawyer, Cllr. Morris Massaquoi, whose name and telephone number appeared on the alleged fake criminal appearance bond.

The Court released Roger apparently without carefully reviewing the document to establish the discrepancies on it. 

The Monrovia City Court is run by three magistrates, including a stipendiary magistrate that heads the court. Barco’s and Associate Magistrate Lasana Kamara’s signatures appeared on the bond, but they have denied having any knowledge of their signature being on  the bond. 

The other persons being investigated are William Pritchard and Anthony Owen, whose names, telephone numbers and signatures also appeared on the sureties section of the bond.  The two have also denied any involvement with the forged bond.

Pritchard had gone to the court to hear a persistent nonsupport and domestic violence case involving Jesse Roberts, according to an eyewitnesses account. Owen also joined Pritchard in Court and each signed as sureties for the release of Roberts, who has been threatened with jail in the absence of a sureties. 

Roberts’ case was before Kamara, while Roger's case was before Barco.

Pritchard, in an interview with journalists, said that he was not satisfied with the  investigation.  “They told me sorry, that it was a mistake. But I am not accepting it. I will make sure we reach the Chief Justice Sie-A-Nyene Yuoh,” Pritchard said angrily. “I was humiliated and disgraced just for someone to tell me I am sorry.

“This is a serious criminal offense committed before this court and against us by using the bond we filed for my son for the release of a criminal defendant,” Pritchard said. “How could a lawyer, conniving with the court officers, use us by forging our signatures [when] we have not authorized the Massaquoi to file this  on their behalf.”