Lawyer and ‘accomplice’ arrested for alleged Bt4m swindle of disabled teen

national July 17, 2017 16:44

By Supachai Phetchthewee
The Nation

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Police have arrested former lawyer Pisit Sammalert and a woman in Bangkok over their alleged roles in cheating a 14-year-old road accident victim out of Bt4 million in compensation.

Pisit, who offered his legal service to the girl’s mother for free, told police that he deducted a Bt500,000 lawyer’s fee from the Bt4 million compensation he had received on the victim’s behalf, city police chief Lt-General Sanit Mahathavorn told a press conference on Monday. He claimed the money was to fund his PhD education, Sanit said.

Pisit also sent Bt3.5 million to his close female friend Pornpaveen Chukaew to help with her financial problems, Sanit said.

Pornpaveen, 44, is currently jailed over a separate drug case involving 500,000 yaba pills in Chumpon after her arrest in April.

Police previously filed charges against her for this case.

Pisit, 59, and another close female friend named Thitapa, or Pattharawadee Sawasdee, 39, were nabbed at about 3am on Monday in a condominium parking lot in Soi Ram-Indra 125 in Bangkok’s Min Buri district. 

Taling Chan provincial court had earlier issued arrest warrants for the duo, along with Pornpaveen for using a forged document to cheat Porntip Chantharat, 44, and her wheelchair-bound 14-year-old daughter, Pattarada “Beam” Kaewpong, out of Bt4 million in compensation following a 2005 road accident. 

Porntip, who identified the two suspects, said she was glad that police had finally captured Pisit. She said she wished to ask him whether this was the way to deliver on his promise of giving his “best effort to help” her family. 

After the police interrogation, Porntip and her daughter talked with Pisit and Thitapa behind closed door for two hours. 

Porntip said later that Pisit apologised to her but she did not say much to him. 

Porntip admitted she worries whether they will get the compensation money back.

Saying that the authorities’ attempts to retrieve the assets to repay the damaged persons would take some time, city police chief Sanit presented a sum of assistance money from his own pocket to Porntip to help with the family’s expenses.

When reports of the alleged swindle surfaced, the Lawyers Council of Thailand (LCT) stripped Pisit from its list of qualified practitioners on the grounds that he was declared insolvent.

Porntip has launched a civil lawsuit against Pisit to seek compensation. The trial is set to begin on August 28. 

Pisit and Pornpaveen have no assets to be seized and sold to repay Porntip’s family, an initial check by the lawyer’s council found, a source said.

Sanit said police officers would bring Pisit and Thitapa to apply for the first 12-day detention period at the Taling Chan court on Tuesday and object their bail release on the grounds they are considered a flight risk. 

Sanit also instructed investigators to complete the probe in 12 days to make an example of Pisit so people would not abuse the power of their position and public trust to cheat others.