Attorney Jennifer Messado out on $5-million bail

Thursday, June 14, 2018

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ATTORNEY-AT-LAW Jennifer Messado, who is now facing fraud charges in four different cases and who police say could face more charges, was yesterday offered bail in the sum of $5 million.

The prosecution, which told the court that there were reports suggesting that the accused was planning to flee the island, had objected to bail.

The 68-year-old lawyer, who was out on an $800,000-bail, was rearrested on Tuesday after two separate reports of fraud were lodged against her in relation to fraudulent land transactions.

In one instance, she is accused of defrauding Jamaican entertainer Mavado of $30.7 million while in the other she is accused of swindling $28.6 million from St Andrew businessman Norman Horne and his sister, Charlotte.

Messado, who was led into the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court yesterday in handcuffs, is facing two counts of obtaining money by false pretence, four counts of forgery and four counts of uttering.

During yesterday's hearing, Messado, who wore a black and white dress with a pair of brown slippers, was silent throughout the proceedings and at times held her head down while she sat with her hand at her cheek. Her husband, who was present in court, also rested his hand on his cheek.

The clerk of court, in outlining the allegations, said Mavado, whose real name is David Brooks, told the police that in April 2017 he was introduced to a property at Grosvenor Terrace in the Kingston 8 area and that Messado professed to have been given permission to oversee the sale as the owner was incarcerated overseas.

The entertainer then reportedly made arrangements to purchase the property through his attorney, Tamika Harris.

The court heard that Mavado later paid Messado $30.7 million for the property through his attorney and signed a sale agreement and a document giving him possession.

However, it was later discovered that the property was not for sale.

“The owner of the property said he does not know who she was and he was never incarcerated,” the clerk of court said.

The prosecutor informed the court that the entertainer had only received $7 million out of the sum paid over to Messado.

In the other matter, Horne, who is executive director of ARC Properties, and his sister were allegedly defrauded of $28.6 million which was reportedly paid over to Messado for a property located on Argyle Road in St Andrew, and owned by the Sports Development Foundation.

The court heard that Messado told the complainants that she was retained by the foundation to conduct the sale. However, it was later discovered that the company had not retained Messado and that the property was not for sale.

The clerk of court, who vigorously opposed bail, told Parish Judge Vaughn Smith that the lead investigator had previously informed the judge that Messado was “winding down her operation to leave the island and that is still on the cards”.

He also contended that Messado has been contacting one of the complainants in the case and has been moving around money in her bank accounts. Added to that, he said the police are investigating her for nine or more cases of fraud.

Attorney Christopher Townsend, in his client's defence, told the judge that he was informed by the police that they were not opposed to bail and given his client's medical condition, the reason why she was charged on Tuesday and brought before the court on Wednesday.

In regard to the reports about his client interfering with a complainant, he said his client and Horne are good friends, had dinners together and have always been in constant contact. However, he said she was aware that Horne had made a report and after he officially became a complainant he had advised her to terminate their contact and to only have dialogue through him, which she did.

Pertaining to the report about fleeing, he argued that his client had no intention of running away as she could have done that before she was charged because she was aware that she was under investigation.

Townsend also informed the court that his client had reimbursed Horne $12 million, but the prosecutor said that was all in his mind.

The judge, after enquiring whether or not conditions had been put in place to prevent the defendant from absconding, granted Messado bail on condition that she report daily at the Constant Spring Police Station, surrender her travel documents with a stop order in place, and abide by a curfew order which requires her to be inside her home between the hours of 7:00 pm and 6:00 am.

She is to return to court on July 3.

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