Police officer jailed for taking $35k from suspect

Woo, 29, was jailed 31 months and four weeks. He was also fined $20,000 and ordered to pay $35,000.
Woo, 29, was jailed 31 months and four weeks. He was also fined $20,000 and ordered to pay $35,000.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

He originally asked for $100,000; he also admitted to several gambling-related charges

A police officer who obtained a total of $35,000 in bribes - in what is believed to be the highest amount taken by a policeman - was sentenced to jail for 31 months and four weeks yesterday for corruption and other offences.

Woo Poh Liang, 29, who has been suspended from duty since January last year, was also fined $20,000 and ordered to pay a penalty of $35,000. As he cannot pay the two sums, he will serve a default sentence of two months for each fine.

He also admitted to six of 18 charges under the Common Gaming Houses Act and Betting Act, including acting as a bookmaker.

Woo had earlier admitted to receiving the bribes from Filipino Angelo Salvador Beltran, 45, on Sept 17, 2014.

On May 22 that year, Beltran was caught taking an upskirt video at an MRT station. Woo was recording Beltran's statement on Sept 10, when he suggested stating that Beltran had taken fewer than five upskirt videos although a large number of them was found. Beltran understood that Woo was trying to do something favourable for him.

Later, Woo told Beltran that his case was very serious, and asked if they could trust each other. Woo then sought $100,000 from Beltran, saying his father was sick with cancer. Beltran said he had only $35,000. Woo asked for $25,000 to be given the next day.

Beltran first withdrew $25,000, and then a further $10,000 orginally intended for his wife to take their children out of Singapore, as he was afraid of what Woo might do. The monies were in exchange for Woo's help and recommendation that Beltran be given only a warning.

But when Beltran learnt that he would be charged, he complained to the anti-graft agency on Sept 18.

District Judge Kamala Ponnampalam said the case was "particularly egregious" and that Woo had brought irreparable damage to public confidence in the law enforcement system.Woo's lawyer, Mr Nakoorsha A.K., said the father of two is supporting his aged parents; his father suffers from serious illnesses like kidney failure and nasal cancer.

He said Woo served his country as a police officer with merit and received commendations and awards.

Beltran was recently given a warning for corruption. It is not known if he will be charged with insulting the modesty of a woman.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 14, 2016, with the headline 'Police officer jailed for taking $35k from suspect'. Print Edition | Subscribe