Tue | Nov 24, 2020

Witness says she lied to cops after meeting with suspect

Published:Friday | June 21, 2019 | 12:18 AMTamara Bailey/Gleaner Writer

When the eighth witness in the $400-million Manchester Municipal Corporation fraud trial returned to the stand yesterday morning in the Manchester Parish Court, it emerged that sections of her testimony over the last two days were inconsistent with what she had told the police in 2016.

The witness admitted that her statement to the police was based on instructions from one of the accused, former deputy superintendent of roads and works Sanja Elliott, who she saw about a month before speaking with the cops.

While under cross-examination by Elliott’s attorney, Norman Godfrey, the witness confirmed that she told the police that she found workers in various divisions in the parish carried out work, and paid workers.

However, when asked about the truthfulness of those statements, her response was, “That’s not true”.

As the questions over the eight-page statement continued, the witness broke down but managed to compose herself quickly.

“Before the investigation and before I went to the police, Sanja told me that if anybody asked any question, I should say I did beautification work and I was employed as a contractor,” the witness responded when asked why she had lied to the police.

She further said that she followed Elliott’s instructions because he was a friend.

She insisted that what she said on the witness stand about providing Elliott with her taxpayer registration number and full name then being called to pick up approximately 40 cheques over a period of time and encashing them and turning over the monies were true accounts of what happened.

On Wednesday, she testified that she collected and encashed about 40 cheques, totalling approximately $15 million, for work she never did or facilitated at the corporation.

Another witness, who also encashed cheques bearing her name for work she never did or facilitated also took the stand yesterday.

She revealed that her uncle, who is not among those charged, had requested her TRN and name. She was later instructed to pick up about three cheques, possibly ranging between $200,000 and $300,000 at the then named Manchester Parish Council.

The witness stated that she would go the office, sign for the cheques, encash them at a popular financial institution, and then turn the monies over to her uncle.

DENIED SUBMITTING INVOICE

When presented with an invoice and questioned on the work being claimed for, she said that she had never submitted an invoice or had one done on her behalf. She also said that she didn’t own a water truck and she did not transport water to the Knockpatrick division.

A representative from the then Office of the Contractor General, which has now been subsumed into the Integrity Commission, also took the stand yesterday and spoke briefly on the date their investigations began and how documents confiscated were treated.

The representative, who is the 10th person on the witness list, is expected to return tomorrow.

There are approximately 37 witnesses left to take the stand after counsel removed 12 persons from the list.

Charged in the matter along with Elliott are his mother, Myrtle; father, Edwardo; wife, Tasha-Gaye; and Dwayne Sibbles, an employee of Elliott’s. Also facing charges are former acting secretary manager and director of finance David Harris; temporary works overseer Kendale Roberts; and former bank employee Radcliffe McLean.

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