State gives back money to former don
CONVICTED MURDERER Donald 'Zeeks' Phipps has received the bulk of the approximately $24 million which the police took from his upper St Andrew house, claiming it was the proceeds of crime.
Phipps, who is serving life imprisonment for the 2005 murder of Dayton Williams and Leroy Farquharson, has already received the bulk of the money from the State.
Head of the Financial Investigations Division (FID) Justin Felice yesterday told The Gleaner that the final of three payments will be made to Phipps this month.
The payments are in keeping with a consent judgment handed down in the Supreme Court on July 31 this year which ordered that the money be returned to Zeeks "within three months".
Justice Frank Williams, who delivered the judgment, also ordered that the Government should not pay interest on the cash up to the date of his ruling and awarded cost to Phipps "to be agreed or taxed".
"We actually made the payments to the AG's (Attorney General) Department who then paid over the money to the lawyer representing Mr Phipps," Felice told The Gleaner.
Phipps' attorney, Jacqueline Samuels-Brown, declined to comment when contacted.
no legal basis to seize money
However, legal observers say the consent judgment is a clear indication that the State has accepted that the police had no legal basis to seize the money.
The money, J$8.35m, US$152,185, £9,020 and CDN$3,980, was seized by the police from Phipps' Havendale, St Andrew, home in May 2005.
Police investigators had alleged that Phipps, the deposed Matthew's Lane, West Kingston, don, ran a criminal enterprise. They said the money was the proceeds of crime.
However, yesterday, one senior government official conceded that a thorough probe conducted by the FID failed to prove that the cash was illegally obtained or was the proceeds of criminal activities.
"It was investigated but sometimes witnesses don't come forward and you don't get what you want so the money has to be returned," the source revealed.
Phipps and his girlfriend, Yvonne Salisman, were charged jointly for unlawful possession of the money, but were freed after the director of public prosecutions decided not to prosecute the case.
Phipps subsequently sued to have the money returned, claiming that it was unlawfully seized.