Manchester fraudsters to appeal prison terms - Elliott’s wife fined $1.5m
Following the five-year prison sentence handed down on Monday to Sanja Elliott, as well as various other terms for his co-convicts in the Manchester Municipal Corporation (MMC) multimillion-dollar fraud saga, dissatisfied attorneys say they will appeal the ruling.
The three former local government officials and one co-convict enmeshed in the scheme will serve a total of nine years in prison, while Tasha-Gaye Goulbourne Elliott, wife of Sanja, will pay a fine of $3 million in three months or risk a one-year sentence.
Peter Champagnie, who represents former temporary works overseer Kendal Roberts, said he was disappointed with the sentencing.
“The parish judge had commented that the view that is being held is that there is limited prospect of success in terms of this matter, and that is a view that I have to respectfully disagree on,” Champagnie told The Gleaner on Monday.
“It is, at the end of the day, a matter for the Court of Appeal to determine.”
That was also the refrain of attorney-at-law Norman Godfrey, who represents Elliott, Goulbourne Elliott, and carpenter Dwayne Sibbles.
Godfrey insists that the appeal will have good grounds for success because of what he deemed compelling disparities between statements given by witnesses and their testimony on the stand.
“When the witnesses came to court, they changed their statements totally. One witness admitted in court that he was giving the testimony because he was threatened by the police, and at the time of being threatened, two of the prosecutors were present,” Godfrey charged.
Elliott, the former deputy superintendent of roads and works described as the mastermind of the fraud web, was convicted on charges of conspiracy to defraud, obtaining money by false pretence, engaging in a transaction that involves criminal property, possession of criminal property, and an act of corruption.
Showed no remorse
Parish Judge Annmarie Grainger said that while consideration was made for Elliott’s upbringing, education and social status, the 34-year-old father of three had several aggravating factors against him, including nonchalance to the charges, the lavishness of his lifestyle, and his failure to show remorse for the severity of his actions while in public office.
An application for bail was denied.
Judge Grainger said there was clear evidence that Elliott fleeced more than $40 million from the municipal corporation and that the sentence should reflect the egregiousness of his actions and serve was a deterrent to possible offenders.
David Harris, former director of finance and secretary manager, was sentenced to 16 months in prison on charges of conspiracy to defraud and an act of corruption.
Harris’ attorney, Danielle Archer, previously pleaded for a non-custodial sentence, citing as mitigating factors her client’s mental health; his need for surgery to save his sight; that he was the only caregiver for his ailing mother; and that his wife was unable to care for their family on her own.
But Judge Grainger stated that Harris could not have been oblivious to the actions of Elliott and played a part in fleecing the corporation.
Former temporary works overseer Kendale Roberts, convicted of conspiracy to defraud, uttering forged documents and an act of corruption, will serve 18 months in prison.
Champagnie, who also represents Roberts, had called a witness who spoke to Roberts’ character, but the judge denied a plea for a non-custodial sentence.
Sibbles will serve 12 months for conspiracy to defraud.
Judge Grainger said that although Goulbourne Elliott, a mother of two, turned a blind eye to the actions of her husband and enjoyed a lavish lifestyle, a harsher sentence would not have been appropriate.
Elliott, Harris, Sibbles and Roberts are expected to appear in the Manchester Circuit Court on Wednesday, September 16, in relation to the application of a forfeiture order for the seizure of their assets.