Tue | Aug 22, 2017

Prominent Jamaican woman weeps in US court, sentenced for tax fraud

Published:Friday | December 4, 2015 | 12:14 AM

Pamella Watson, prominent member of the Jamaican Diaspora wept in a US court yesterday as she was sentenced to six years and six months in prison for pocketing millions of dollars in false income-tax refunds from the US government.

An online report in the Miami Herald newspaper says the 60-year-old accountant from South Florida, admitted to the judge that she made a bad decision on a practical and moral level.

Watson wept as she said sorry to the judge, her family and victims.

 

Damion Mitchell reports

Pamella Watson who was arrested in May was later convicted on a count of wire-fraud in a plea agreement that also saw several charges being dropped. 

According to the Miami Herald report, Watson’s defense attorney asked US District Judge James Cohn to give her a lenient prison sentence of three-anda-half years.

However, instead the judge sentenced her to six-and-a-half years behind bars.

The lawyer said Watson deserved a break because she has agreed to return a chunk of the money stolen from the Internal Revenue Service.

However, after listening to the prosecutor read three letters from Watson’s victims, the judge said the once-prominent accountant abused her position of trust and her professional license to exploit hundreds of clients over several years to steal more than US$3.6 million from the Treasury Department.

Among the assets being turned over are about US$600,000 she held in bank accounts in Jamaica and an additional US$586,000 from real estate sales in South Florida.

According to court records, Watson exploited about 200 unwitting clients — many of whom were Jamaicans by changing their actual tax returns and filing inflated refund claims without their knowledge over a four-year period. 

Watson who hosted fundraisers for the leaders of Jamaica's two major political parties was also popular in the political circles.