Ruling on Armstrong fraud rap set for December 13
Parish Judge Venice Blackstock Murray is to rule on December 13 to submissions by the defence that Jamaican attorney-at-law Anthony Armstrong, the director of public prosecutions in Antigua, committed no fraud.
Attorney-at-law Hugh Wildman, who is representing Armstrong, submitted on Monday in the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court that the charges against Armstrong should be thrown out.
He is charged with fraudulent conversion and conspiracy involving the sale of three properties which took place 20 years ago.
Wildman submitted that there was no evidence from the statements produced by the prosecution to implicate Armstrong in any wrongdoing. He said that the statements provided demonstrated that it was the complainant’s cousin, Shelly Ann Campbell, who sold all three apartments.
Wildman said Campbell signed all the transfers in the names of the complainant and herself and she was a joint owner of one of the apartments.
In his submissions, Wildman referred to a 2018 statement from a police handwriting expert in which he analysed that the signatures on the transfers to be that of Campbell. Wildman pointed out that both the expert and the General Legal Council (GLC) found that Armstrong did not sign the transfers. He described the charges against Armstrong as malicious or incompetence on the part of the police because despite being exonerated by their own expert, they went ahead and charged him.
The charges stem from the sale of three properties between 1999 and 2002 in St Andrew in which Armstrong had represented the complainant, who was the vendor.
Armstrong is contending that he is not guilty of the charges because the proceeds of the sale were paid over to the father of the complainant, who had been authorised to be an agent while his son was incarcerated in the United States. Armstrong said one of the properties was owned by the complainant and his cousin.
The complainant, Michael Adams, had reported Armstrong to the GLC over the matter.
The Disciplinary Committee of the GLC found in February that Armstrong was guilty of professional misconduct for witnessing a document for a client who was not present. He was reprimanded.
Armstrong is appealing the ruling.
The committee found that the complainant, Adams, who was serving time in prison in the US for conspiracy to import cocaine and marijuana, had spoken to Armstrong on the phone and told him that he wanted the properties to be sold and that his father, Shelly Ann Campbell, and her husband, Hugh Campbell, would be handling the transactions.
‘There is no evidence, based on our findings, that the attorney gained any personal benefit in this matter, nor did the witnessing of the complainant’s signature without him being physically present have an adverse effect on others,” the committee ruled.
“Had the complainant not signed the transfers which we found he did, thereby authorising the purchase and subsequent sales, the consequences of the actions of the attorney would be far more severe than the case before us.”
– Barbara Gayle