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Elliot showed criminal intent to obtain monetary advantage for himself, says Crown


THE $400-million Manchester Municipal Corporation fraud trial ended on Friday, May 15, 2020 with the conviction of main accused 35-year-old Sanja Elliott, the corporation’s former deputy superintendent of road and works; his wife, Tasha-gaye Goulbourne-Elliott; two former employees of the corporation, David Harris, secretary/manager and acting chief executive officer, and Kendale Roberts, temporary works overseer; as well as Dwayne Sibblies, a former employee of Sanja Elliott.

Those freed at the end of the trial were Sanja Elliott’s mother, Myrtle Elliott, and former commercial bank teller Radcliff McLean.

In January, Sanja Elliott’s father and husband of Myrtle Elliott, Elwardo, was the first to be freed.

The charges included conspiracy to defraud, engaging in a transaction that involves criminal property, several counts of possession of criminal property, facilitating the retention of criminal property, obtaining money by means of false pretence, causing money to be paid out by forged documents, an act of corruption, and uttering forged documents.

The Jamaica Observer continues its publication of the Crown’s closing submission, prepared by prosecutors Channa Ormsby, Patrice Hickson, and Jamelia Simpson, as well as Kamesha Campbell, attorney on fiat from the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency, and presented to the court in the case against the seven.

 

COUNTS 23, 25& 26

OBTAINING MONEY BY MEANS OF FALSE PRETENCES

[185] Counts 23, 25 and 26 charge Mr Elliott with the offence of obtaining money by means of false pretences in respect of monies paid out to MM, NH and TM (names withheld to protect witnesses).

* Count 23: Sanja Elliott, on a date unknown between February 1, 2016 and December 31, 2016, with intent to defraud, obtained the sum of $400,000 from the Manchester Parish Council by falsely pretending that the said monies were bona fide payments for work done by TM on behalf of the Manchester Parish Council.

* Count 25: Sanja Elliott, on a date unknown between December 1, 2015 and December 31, 2015 with intent to defraud, obtained the sum of $300,000 from the Manchester Parish Council by falsely pretending that the said monies were bona fide payments for work done by MM on behalf of the Manchester Parish Council.

* Count 26: Sanja Elliott, on dates unknown between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2016 in the parish of Manchester, with intent to defraud, obtained in excess of $1,000,000 from the Manchester Parish Council by falsely pretending that the said monies were bona fide payments for work done by NH on behalf of the Manchester Parish Council.

 

THE LAW

[186] Section 35 (1) of the Larceny Act states, “every person who, by any false pretence with intent to defraud, obtains from any person any chattel, money, or valuable security, or causes or procures any money to be paid, or any chattel or valuable security to be delivered, to himself or to any other person for the use or benefit or on account of himself or any other person, shall be guilty of a misdemeanour, and on conviction thereof liable to imprisonment with hard labour for any term not exceeding five years”.

 

Elements of the offence

 

[187] According to the learned authors of Archbold, Pleading and Evidence and Practice in Criminal Cases, citing Hamilton v R and R v Dutt:

“It is sufficient to show that the pretence was made, that the money etc was obtained thereby, with intent to defraud, and that the pretence was false to the knowledge of the prisoner.”

 

[188] NH, MM, TM and AF provided the evidence against Mr Elliott in respect of this count. From the evidence of these witnesses as well as the payment vouchers and invoices admitted in evidence, the court can draw reasonable inferences that Mr Elliott obtained money from the council by falsely pretending that these individuals were legitimate contractors who had performed bona fide work for the council, as described in the respective payment vouchers and invoices, and were thus entitled to payment. By certifying these documents, Mr Elliott represented to the council that the work had been carried out and these individuals were entitled to payment. Consequently, cheques were prepared and presented to these individuals either by Mr Elliott or someone acting on his instructions. The evidence before the court is that the witnesses encashed the cheques and returned the proceeds to Mr Elliott, or someone acting on his behalf.

 

[189] In respect of count 23, exhibits 146 and 64 show where Mr Elliot dishonestly certified the payment voucher attesting to work being satisfactorily performed, being well aware that TM had not performed the work described therein and was therefore not entitled to payment. TM testified that he encashed this cheque and gave the proceeds to Mr Elliott. Similarly, the case of MM is even more instructive of his criminal intent to obtain a monetary advantage for himself. By virtue of exhibit 6, Mr Elliott also certified that work had been done and MM was to be paid accordingly, knowing this was not true. The unchallenged evidence before the court is that Mr Elliott contacted MM and asked her to encash a cheque in the sum of $300,000, which she did and gave the proceeds to Dwayne Sibblies on Mr Elliott’s instructions.

 

[190] In respect of NH, she testified that Mr Elliott had requested her TRN, which she gave him, and he informed her that she would be employed to do beautification work for the council. Her evidence is that she performed no work for the council. Nonetheless, Mr Elliott certified payment vouchers and invoices which claimed that she had satisfactorily completed the work stated therein and was therefore entitled to be paid. She encashed the cheques and gave the proceeds to him. Another factor which tends to support Mr Elliott’s dishonest intent is his instructions to her that if the police were to approach her she is to say that she did beautification work. Mr Elliott acted dishonestly in all three cases to prejudice the interest of the council and, as a result of his conduct, the council paid out monies because of his false representations.

 

[191] The Crown invites the court to find that Mr Elliott, by certifying the payment vouchers and invoices, dishonestly represented to the council that sums were owed to TM, MM and NH for bona fide work performed. The documents support where payment was made to these individuals and the account of the council debited. Mr Elliott received the proceeds from the witnesses and in so doing the council was permanently deprived of these funds because of his false representations.

TOMORROW: Causing money to be paid out by means of forged documents

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