Sat | Apr 4, 2020

Manchester MC Fraud Trial | Hearing adjourned until March 16 as matter approaches end

Published:Thursday | February 20, 2020 | 9:14 AM
The final testimonies were heard in the Porus Court yesterday.

Tamara Bailey, Gleaner Writer

PORUS, Manchester:
The high-profile Manchester Municipal Corporation fraud trial  matter has been adjourned until March 16 to allow the prosecution and the defence to prepare their closing submissions. 

The final testimonies were heard in the Porus Court yesterday.

Sanja Elliott, the alleged mastermind of the fraud scheme, denied ever benefiting from cheques paid to Crown witnesses who have testified that they were encashed on his behalf. 

Elliott, the former deputy superintendent of roads and works at the local authority made the declaration in an unsworn statement from the dock.

He was first employed to the corporation as a building officer in 2007 before being promoted to deputy superintendent of roads and works in 2012. 

He said he made additional earnings from private works he did as a draftsman and building designer and that there was supporting evidence on a computer that was seized by law enforcement authorities during the fraud probe. 

Elliott also said he bought and sold cars and unofficially inherited a lumber, furniture and appliance store from his aunt who passed away in 2016. 

"I have never defrauded the MPC (Manchester Parish Council) of any monies neither has there been any such report... All I have done was to carry out works submitted by councillors, MPs and CEO..." Elliott said.

He said communication among the members of authority were done formally through hard copy documents and emails or informally through SMS or WhatsApp messages. 

Meanwhile, co-accused Dwayne Sibbles countered investigators' reports detailing his arrest. 

"June 24,  2016 , I was arrested... I never spoke to no MOCA (Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency) officer before or after my arrest. I was locked up at Hunts Bay in Kingston and not at Central as was previously stated by Martin Morgan (Investigator)," he said.

Sibbles, who was Elliotts caretaker, said he was locked up fro six days before being brought to Half-Way Tree where he saw Morgan for the first time and was charged. 

Sibbles has been accused of collecting monies from individuals who had encashed fraudent cheques from the Council.

But he has denied doing so.

"I have not collected no money with the intention to give to anyone , especially to Sanja Elliott. I am innocent of all the charges that have been brought against me," he said.

Elliott's wife, TashaGaye Goulbourne-Elliott, who has been charged with facilitating the retention of criminal property, admitted to making withdrawals from an account jointly held with her husband. 

"A managers cheque was drawn, payable to a payee to complete a motor car sales transaction, which we were engaged in before he (Elliott) was arrested," ​Goulbourne-Elliott said, adding that all subsequent withdrawals from the account were for her husband's legal fees. 

Accused temporary works overseer Kendale Roberts, declared himself as one of integrity and denied ever signing invoices without fact checking and having any knowledge of messages that were said to be sent from his phone. 

"I have never signed off on any invoices for work that was not done," he said.

Roberts also said he had no idea about incriminating text messages on his phone.

"My phone was taken and up until now I have not seen any analysis or my phone," he said.

A retired principal who testified as Robert's character witness said the criminal allegations against him are not typical of his behaviour.

"The only thing I know about him that I would consider bad is that he loves girls," she said. 

Seven people are before the court in relation to the fraud scheme.

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