Witness says she was asked to cash cheque in her name
A woman yesterday detailed for prosecutors how an official at the then Manchester Parish Council, whom she had befriended, telephoned her days before Christmas in 2015 to ask her to encash a cheque for him.
The Manchester Parish Council has been renamed the Manchester Municipal Corporation.
The woman, whose name is being withheld, testified that following the December 18 telephone call from Sanja Elliott, former deputy superintendent of roads and works at the municipal corporation, a man she identified as Dwayne Sibbles showed up at her workplace in Mandeville and handed her the cheque.
According to her testimony, that was when she found out that the $300,000 cheque, drawn on the account of the municipal corporation, was payable to her.
Before Elliott asked her to cash the cheque, he also asked for her Taxpayer Registration Number (TRN), she recounted.
“At the time, I didn’t think anything of it because at the time, we were pretty close,” said the woman who acknowledged that she and the married local official were friends “until the relationship got a little more serious”.
The woman said she and Sibbles went to a commercial bank, and she was waiting in line to encash the cheque when he told her that he knew someone at the financial institution. She said a “gentleman” at the bank, who she later identified as Radcliffe McLean, called to her and asked if he could assist her.
She said McLean cashed the cheque and she handed the cash to Sibbles “as I was told by Mr Elliott”.
“Afterwards, I got a call from Mr Elliott, telling me thanks and that he would see me in the evening,” the woman recounted.
She was giving evidence in the Manchester Parish Court yesterday where Elliott, along with two former colleagues at the Manchester Municipal Corporation – David Harris, then acting secretary/manager and Kendale Roberts, temporary works overseer – are on trial for allegedly conspiring with others to defraud the local authority of $400 million through the use of fictitious invoices.
Sibbles and McLean, along with Elliott’s wife Tashagay, and parents Edwardo and Myrtle, are also on trial for conspiracy to defraud, obtaining money by means of false pretences, possession of criminal property, engaging in a transaction that involves criminal property, and facilitating the retention of criminal property.
All eight have pleaded not guilty.
Several suspicious cheques
Between Thursday and yesterday, former Manchester Deputy Mayor Ervin Facey identified for prosecutors 60 cheques that were drawn on the account of the Manchester Municipal Corporation and made payable to several persons for work done on behalf of the local body.
According to Facey’s testimony, the woman’s name appeared on nine of the cheques while the name Aldaine Foster appeared on 19 and the name Tyrone Merchant appeared on 14.
The woman was shown a number of supporting documents for the cheques drawn in her name. The documents also had her TRN, and her name was signed to them, triggering a series of questions from lead prosecutor Patrice Hickson.
“Have you at any time been employed to the Manchester Parish Council?” the prosecutor asked.
“No,” the woman replied.
“Have you at any point done any work for the Manchester Parish Council?” Hickson continued.
“No,” the woman again replied.
“Is that your signature on the documents?” the prosecutor questioned.
“No, it’s not,” the woman replied.
The trial is set to continue next Wednesday.