Doc jailed for blood sample deception

He passed off his own HIV-negative blood as that of US boyfriend to help him get job here

A Singaporean doctor who submitted his own blood sample in place of his HIV-positive boyfriend's, to help the American get an employment pass here, has been sentenced to two years in jail.

Ler Teck Siang, 36, is appealing against his conviction and sentence on two charges each for abetment of cheating and for giving a false statement to a public servant. The prosecution has also appealed against the sentence.

In September, Ler was found guilty of helping Mikhy Farrera-Brochez deceive the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) into issuing him an employment pass in March 2008 and allowing him to keep the pass in November 2013 after red flags were raised.

Ler was also found guilty of lying to the Ministry of Health (MOH) in December 2013 and the police in January 2014, when he was questioned about the second blood test.

District judge Luke Tan's written grounds for his decision were published yesterday.

Farrera-Brochez, 33, who was a polytechnic lecturer here, was sentenced to 28 months in jail last year for offences including cheating, possession of drugs and using forged educational certificates.

He had moved to Singapore after meeting Ler online.

In March 2008, the American took an HIV test at a Singapore Anti-Tuberculosis Association (Sata) clinic using a fake Bahamian passport. He tested positive.

The prosecution said the pair knew foreigners with HIV are not allowed to work here, and so hatched a plan to get an employment pass.

Farrera-Brochez went to the clinic where Ler was working as a locum for a medical test. However, the blood sample labelled with his name came from Ler. It tested negative and Farrera-Brochez was issued an employment pass.

Later, MOH determined that the positive result from the Sata clinic belonged to Farrera-Brochez and told MOM about this. In October 2013, when MOM was going to cancel Farrera-Brochez's employment pass, he used the same ruse again, submitting Ler's blood for testing, and managed to keep his pass.

MOH and the police investigated the matter.

Ler initially maintained to the police that the blood sample was Farrera-Brochez's. But in two statements in May 2016, he confessed that he had substituted his blood for Farrera-Brochez's.

During his trial, Ler claimed he had given these statements under duress. His various allegations were rejected by Judge Tan.

Among other things, Ler said that while he was being questioned, an officer burst into the room, flung medical records on the table and shouted at him to "stop playing games" and tell them what they wanted to hear. This was refuted by the relevant officers.

The judge said he found it hard to believe Ler, who flip-flopped in his testimony regarding the identity of the officer who was allegedly hostile towards him.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 14, 2018, with the headline Doc jailed for blood sample deception. Subscribe