Witnesses outline municipal corporation procedures

Witnesses outline municipal corporation procedures

Thursday, May 28, 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 Radcliffe 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 pretences, 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 EVIDENCE BEFORE THE COURT

[69] WITNESSES AS TO PROCEDURE – MANCHESTER PARISH COUNCIL

1. Exhibits 245 (a) & (b) - Statement of Darcia Roach dated 23.9.2016 and 6.01.2017.

Sanja Elliott's Responsibilities

• Mr Elliott was employed to the Manchester Parish Council (MPC) on December 19, 2006 as a temporary clerk then as a building officer effective September 3, 2007.

• He was assigned the position of deputy superintendent of roads and works on September 1, 2011 and permanently appointed to that post on September 26, 2013;

• His roles and responsibilities included: to implement and supervise capital works being undertaken by the department; examination of building plans and make recommendations to the superintendent of roads and works; to prepare proposed expenditure reports under the parochial revenue funds road maintenance; inspection of building sites after the lodging of applications in pursuit of building;

• As acting superintendent of roads and works, Section 6 of the Parochial Road Act governed his functions;

• During her tenure, she has never seen an application from Mr Elliot seeking approval for additional work or moonlighting for him to be performing duties other than that stipulated in his job description, as the requirement would be for him to apply to the secretary/manager who would then refer the letter to her for application or recommendation from the Services Commission for such an approval.

Kendale Roberts

[70] Roles and Responsibilities

Mr Roberts' role entails:

• Carrying out routine inspection of all roads and to prepare bills for payment.

• Supervision of drain cleaning or local maintenance programme.

• Supervision of road improvement projects.

• Implementation of work programmes and to assist in the preparation of contract documents.

David Harris

[71] Roles and Responsibilities

Include:

• Supervise the preparation of the council's annual budget.

• Screening all contracts before submission to the Finance Department Committee and ensuring that all requirements are met. Monitoring the contract thereafter to ensure that the terms and conditions are observed. Ensuring that the contract ledger or docket covering every contract is maintained.

[72] Testimony of Althea Hall — June 4, 2019 — evidence in chief

• Testified that between 2015 and March 2016 she was the superintendent of roads and works and in that role was the technical person who provided advice to the council on technical matters.

• Superintendent roads and works is tasked with the maintenance of all parochial roads within the parish including, drain cleaning, bushing, minor rehabilitation such as patching, repairs to bridges and culverts.

• Testified that work can be implemented at the request of the councillor whereby the councillor sends a written document (letter) to CEO of the Manchester Parish Council which sets out the programme to include the named contractor, Taxpayer Registration Number (TRN), contact number for the person and the allotted amount.

• Superintendent roads and works can allocate work to be done for debushing, etc.

• The law gives the superintendent roads and works the power to identify work and get it done by whatever means.

• The deputy superintendent can identify work to be done in the various divisions.

• In 2015, based on the procurement guidelines, the limit for contractor was $500,000 per work performed;

[73] Testimony of Brenda Ramsay — June 5, 2019 —evidence in chief

• Miss Ramsay was employed to MPC from 1998 until 2016. First employed as a councillor and then as mayor for the last 8 years;

• Councillor for the Belfield Division and Mandeville Street;

• As mayor she would sign cheques and interface with the general public;

• Signing officers include the CEO, chief financial officer, one other individual on the administrative side. From the political directorate it was the mayor and deputy mayor;

• The payee to the cheque would come to the council and present their identification and then sign and collect the cheque. This would require national identification (passport, driver's licence);

• There is no exception to this process;

• Where a person other than the named payee is collecting a cheque, the named payee would have to send a letter authorising the individual to collect on his or her behalf. We usually ask that the letter be witnessed by justices of the peace. This is done to ensure that it is authentic;

• To the best of her knowledge an employee of the council cannot collect a cheque on behalf of the payee;

• The cheques are signed for; the individual collecting the cheque must sign for the cheque;

• The individual is required to go to the designated area in the accounting department to collect the cheque.

[74] Testimony Donican Sutherland — June 5, 2019 — evidence in chief

• Employed to the council as the superintendent of minor water supplies since 2007;

• A request for delivery of water is usually made by the councillor, superintendent roads and works or deputy superintendent of roads and works;

• Normally, when a request is made he would contact a contractor and give them the area in which the request was made;

• The contractors are usually selected by the councillors or Members of Parliament. These contractors are not employed to the council.

• The contractor is provided with the area and then the water is delivered;

• In 2013-2016, there was a system to ensure that water was delivered. Normally there is a voucher and book; this book has the location and time, driver's name and signature;

• In 2013-2016, there was no requirement for a representative from the council to physically check that water was delivered;

• The contractor then submits an invoice to me which details the area in which the water is delivered, name and TRN, amount for total delivery and it normally gives the amount of the trips or loads delivered;

• He would sign off on the invoice. Having signed off on the invoice it would then be submitted to the accounting clerk;

• There are no female contractors that I am aware of as it relates to delivery of water.

[75] Testimony Donna Christie — June 5, 2019 —evidence in chief

• Employed to MPC as an accounting clerk for the past 23-24 years. Duties include printing of cheques or any other duties assigned;

• Prepares payroll cheques, parochial revenue fund, recurrent and capital cheques;

• She receives the payment voucher with a system number written on it. The cheque, when generated, is assigned to that voucher. She indicates the cheque number onto the voucher;

• Two persons are required to sign the cheques;

• The council orders the cheques from Xsomo and these cheques are usually in green, blue, pink or yellow. There is a watermark on the cheques; the cheques also contain the logo of MPC;

• These cheques are stored in the vault of the council and are drawn on Bank of Nova Scotia and National Commercial Bank.

[76] Testimony Mitsy Smith — June 5-6, 10-11, 2019 - evidence in chief

• Employed to the council as an accounting clerk since 2007 and also worked as a collector in 2001.

• Role is to prepare invoices, bills, payment vouchers (P1) and any other assigned work.

Process

i. First the invoices are provided to her by a work overseer that is the person giving out the work. Her responsibility to ensure that the contractor's name is on the invoice, TRN, description of work and the contractor's signature is on the invoice.

ii. That information on the invoice is then transferred to a purchase order book or invoice order book. This is sent to the superintendent or deputy superintendent to be signed. After it is signed it is sent to the administrative department to be signed by a signing officer.

iii. After it is signed by the officer, she prepares a payment voucher (P1 Form). After the form is prepared it is signed by the superintendent or deputy superintendent or the person acting for them.

iv. The invoice is prepared in triplicate and attached to the contractor invoice given to her by the work overseer and then she attaches the P1 Form and all of that is clipped together and sent to the accounts department.

v. She is required to sign the payment voucher.

vi. The invoices have to be signed off by the work overseer before she prepares the payment vouchers. The signature of the works overseer on the invoice indicates that they are the ones who gave out the work and signifies that it is completed.

vii. Exhibits 1-114 admitted into evidence through Miss Smith.

[77] Testimony of Ervin Facey — June 11-14, 2019 — evidence in chief

• He is a parish councillor for the Spur Tree Division and previously held the post of deputy mayor/deputy chairman at the council between 2007-2018.

• He was one of the two political signing officers; other signing officers included the mayor; from the administrative side there was the director of finance, who was Mr David Harris between 2013-2016.

• As a signing officer he signed cheques and payment vouchers and would verify the signatures of the relevant officers noted on the payment vouchers and cheques by checking to see that they are the authorised signatories. He is acquainted with the relevant officers' signatures.

• In the case of David Harris, he knows him and became acquainted with his signature, and saw his signatures on memos and minutes or correspondence from meetings.

• He is familiar with Sanja Elliott's signature which he observed on bills and payment vouchers.

• Shown exhibits 1-114 and identified the signatures of Sanja Elliott and David Harris on payment vouchers and MPC invoices.

• Exhibits 115-176 tendered and admitted into evidence through Mr Facey who recognises his signature and also David Harris' signature.

TOMORROW: Direct evidence — witnesses as to fact


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