Paralegal before court for fraudulent conversion

BY TANESHA MUNDLE
Observer staff reporter
mundlet@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

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A paralegal, who reportedly pretended that she was a lawyer and collected more than $6 million from two people as down payment on properties, is scheduled to return to the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court on December 18.

Collette Williams Grant, 34, of Hellshire, St Catherine, who was employed at a law office, is facing two counts of fraudulent conversion.

In the first case, it is alleged that, in November 2017, the complainant, who was desirous of purchasing a house, was recommended to the accused of a particular development company.

The complainant reportedly met with Williams Grant at her business place on Old Hope Road in St Andrew, where they talked, which resulted in the complainant making a payment of $2,110,000. This was reportedly done via three manager's cheques, which were made payable to the development company as a down payment towards the purchase of a house in Portmore.

In March 2018 the complainant was reportedly told by the accused that the occupants of the house had filed documents in court objecting to its sale, as a result the complainant signed documents to cancel the transaction.

In June, the accused reportedly informed the complainant that she would be refunding the deposit. However, since July she reportedly became elusive and numerous efforts by the complainant to locate the accused proved futile, so the matter was reported to the police and she was subsequently arrested and charged.

In the other case, allegations are that between March and July of this year, the complainant made payments totalling $4,600,000 to the account the development company, on behalf of her father who lives overseas.

The money was reportedly part-payment for a property in Seville Meadows, Phase One, Spanish Town, St Catherine, which was being sold for $10 million.

The complainant's father had also applied to the National Housing Trust (NHT) for a loan and in September the complainant allegedly received a package from NHT, which included documents indicating that the sum of $4,600,000 had been paid over to the vendor's attorney by Williams Grant.

But checks made by the complainant reportedly revealed that only $1,030,000 had paid over to the vendor's lawyer.

The accused was contacted and reportedly promised, on several occasions, to pay the money in full to the lawyer but failed to do so, and reportedly made herself scarce. The complainant therefore reported the matter and the accused was charged.

Yesterday, when the matter came up in court, Williams Grant's attorney Davorna Wilson, who indicated that she was recently contracted and had limited instructions, denied that her client had collected any money from the complainants.

However, the prosecutor told the court that the police are to bring evidence to show that the monies were lodged in her account.

Additionally, one of the complainant's told Judge Maxine Ellis that the accused had accompanied her to the bank on the day that she was transferring the funds into her account.

“So your client didn't go to the bank with the lady?” the judge asked Wilson, who insisted that she was not in a position to respond based on her limited instructions.

“At the minimum, you should be able to respond to the allegations in the main,” the judge told her.

However, the attorney later asked to be given a new date for her to get further instructions from her client, so that she will be able to respond to whether or not her client had entered into any arrangement with the complainants; whether or not she had collected any money; and whether or not those arrangements were completed.

Williams Grant's bail was subsequently extended.

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