$300,000 for work not done

Witness says she was asked to change cheque in her name

Saturday, June 15, 2019

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — A witness in the Manchester Municipal Corporation fraud trial yesterday testified that she was neither employed to nor did work for the local government body but cashed a $300,000 cheque bearing her name and taxpayer registration number (TRN) then handed over the money to be delivered to Sanja Elliott, former deputy superintendent of the Road and Works Department.

Elliott is one of eight accused on trial for over $400 million alleged to have been misappropriated from the corporation after police said their investigation revealed that some cheques were drafted fictitiously and payments made for work not done.

The witness told the court that she became friends with Elliott in 2015 after she started visiting a fruit establishment where she was working at the time.

She said they exchanged numbers and talked daily as the friendship got “a little more serious”.

The witness said that since they were “pretty close”, when he asked to have a cheque done in her name for work not done she did not immediately ask questions. However, she said that when she did ask, nothing came of the conversation.

She said she provided her TRN and verification when Elliott asked for it to be placed on the cheque.

“He (Elliott) said that he would send someone with the cheque and I said 'Okay'. So he sent a gentleman with a cheque,” said the witness, who identified the “gentleman” as Dwayne Sibblies, who was employed to Elliott and is facing conspiracy to defraud and other charges.

She said she went with Sibblies to the bank to cash the cheque on the day he came to deliver it. According to the witness, Elliott and Sibblies told her that they had a friend at the bank.

She said that after they got to the bank she was called out of the line by a teller who got “someone” to assist her.

The witness said after the cheque was cashed she gave the $300,000 to Sibblies to deliver to Elliott, then returned to her job.

She said she did not know the teller prior to that interaction but she was still able to identify him.

When the prosecution made attempts to ask her to do so, presiding judge Ann-Marie Grainger and defence attorney Joel Nelson objected.

Nelson is representing former bank employee Radcliffe McLean, who was implicated in the probe and is also on trial.

The trial will resume sitting at the parish court in Mandeville next Wednesday.

It was relocated to Porus for Thursday and yesterday to facilitate other matters in Mandeville, where more cases are heard.

However, Judge Grainger assessed at the end of day one in Porus that the traffic was disruptive to the proceedings at the court, which is upstairs the police station by the roadside.

The heat in the courtroom was also mentioned as a challenge.

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