Witness tells of cheques in his name for work not done by him

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Witness tells of cheques in his name for work not done by him

Sunday, May 31, 2020

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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.

The issue of omissions — Re-examination of TM (name withheld to protect witness)

[115] We submit that the below stated omissions identified in TM's evidence do not go to the root of the Crown's case and are therefore not a material defect. It is for the Court to assess the explanation given by the witness when assessing his credibility, and to either accept or reject the explanation.

Question: Why is it not in your statement about encashing cheques and giving the money to Mr Elliott?

Answer: I wasn't being asked.

Question: Today is the first time that you are saying that you encashed cheques and gave the cash to Mr Sibblies, why is that not in your statement?

Answer: Because it is the first time I am being asked.

Witness of Truth:

[116] The Court had the opportunity to observe TM's demeanour in the witness box. We submit that he gave cogent and clear testimony and was never shaken in cross-examination. He spoke with candour as to requests made of him and his involvement in the matter before the court. Unsuccessful attempts were made by the defence in cross-examination to colour his viva voce evidence to suggest that he had given a contrary narrative to the Police on a prior occasion, and to insinuate that somehow his evidence in court had been cultured by the prosecution. In respect of this attempt, the Crown submits that TM's credibility is to be assessed with regard to the following components:

• The commonality between his evidence and other witnesses as to fact previously outlined. These commonalities are corroborated in material respects and consistent with the picture painted by the exhibits tendered into evidence in his name and the names of other fact witnesses.

• The nature of his professional and personal relationship with Mr Elliott, having carried out welding work on Mr Elliott's home.

• His evidence in terms of the process he explained occurs when he does legitimate work for the council (preparing, signing and submitting contractor invoice; the work is assessed and he visits the council to collect the cheque from the cashier where he presents his ID and signs for the cheque. We submit that his evidence regarding legitimate work that he performs on behalf of the council is consistent and is in keeping with the evidence of Miss Althea Hall and also the unsworn statement of Mr David Harris.

• We commend him as a witness who has no interest to serve especially given he was Mr Elliott's friend.

• We commend him to the court as a witness of truth whose evidence is reliable and when looked at cumulatively in the context of other direct and circumstantial evidence a reasonable mind could reach a conclusion of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Testimony of AF (name withheld to protect witness) October 14-15, 2019 — evidence in chief

[117] AF states:

• He works as an entrepreneur buying and selling vehicles and knows Sanja Elliott for about 15 years up to 2013. They are good friends and he has known him since secondary school days.

• They corresponded on the phone about three times per week and would meet up and talk about once per week.

• He provided Mr Elliott with his TRN at Mandeville Shopping Centre and did not give it to anyone else.

• He performed work on behalf of the council which Mr Elliott gave to him. This was work as an overseer or supervisor doing drain cleaning, debushing and beautification work in Mile Gully, Grove Place and Banana Ground only. He did not supervise anywhere else.

• He supervised work for the council about three times for the month between 2013 and 2016. The total supervision he carried out amounted to about seven to 10 times. He submitted invoices to the council for this work and would collect the cheques from the council, which Mr Elliott would sometimes call about to inform him when they were ready. Only about four times he collected cheques from the council, other times he met Mr Elliott by the bank or on the road and collected the cheque. Mr Elliott would call and tell him to meet him at the bank, which he did. He cashed the cheques and handed over the proceeds to him outside of the bank.

• He recalls on July 1, 2016, Detective Sergeant Morgan showed him a cheque dated 23/6/2016 bearing his name with the council's logo on it and a stub attached. He was never owed this money on the cheque.

• He recalls August 31, 2017 he was shown between 70 and 80 invoices and cheques by Inspector Morgan. Of this 70 to 80 cheques and invoices he did work seven to 10 times. He did not work for the remaining cheques and on any given day he received one or two of these cheques either from Mr Elliott at the bank or collected it at the council. He encashed these cheques and gave the proceeds to Mr Elliott, who said he was going to pay workers. He did not verify that the work was done for these cheques he received from Mr Elliott, neither did he work for them.

• He received $7,000 from each cheque because his name was on the cheque. Because Mr Elliott had given him the work, at first he didn't see anything wrong with changing the cheques for him and also given his position at the council.

• He was shown 20 cheques and 19 invoices in court. He recognised his name and the signature on the back of the cheques as his signature. However, the signature on the contractor invoices is not his, albeit that his name and TRN are stated on these invoices. The divisions stated on the exhibits shown to him were not divisions in which he did work.

• The signature on all the contractor invoices shown to him is not his signature. He did not provide any tools and labour as stated on the exhibited payment vouchers and contractor invoices, nor worked at all in the named divisions Mike Town, Knockpatrick, New Port, New Green, Alligator Pond, and Royal Flat as described on these documents. He did not prepare the contractor invoices or caused anyone to perform work in these divisions.

• In relation to all the 20 cheques shown to him, he did not work for them but received them from Mr Elliott. Mr Elliott would call him and that is how he knew he was to meet him at the bank. He would hand over the proceeds from those cheques that he did not work for to Mr Elliott outside of the bank.

• He does not know of Mr Elliott “buying and selling vehicles as Sanja would ask me to sell vehicles for him”. He recalls two vehicles, which at the time were in Mr Elliott's name, and he referred him to the person to sell the vehicles.

• He was asked by Mr Elliott to register two motor vehicles in his name as a friend. One was a Honda CR-V and the other a Honda Civic. Mr Elliott provided the money to transfer both vehicles in AF's name, who then attended the Mandeville tax office and had this done.

• “Mr Elliott is the owner of these two motor vehicles. I can't say how these were paid for as I did not expend any money to pay for them. Mr Elliott paid for the insurance and after the vehicles were transferred in my name, I handed over possession of the vehicles to Mr Elliott.”

He also handed the motor vehicles' certificates of title to Mr Elliott.

• He served as a reference for Mr Elliott when he opened his account at NCB.

TOMORROW: Witness says he disowned invoices with his signature which he did not sign


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