D Gisele Isaac stands trial for corruption and conversion

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By Latrishka Thomas

A crowd of onlookers filled the courtroom as the trial of the former executive secretary of the Board of Education, D Gisele Isaac, started yesterday before Justice Stanley John.

A jury of 12 people was selected to determine Isaac’s guilt or innocence on the one count of corruption and two counts of conversion with which she has been charged.

She is said to have illegally obtained $9,000 for the benefit of Algernon “Serpent” Watts and to have dishonestly applied $9,000 and fraudulently applied $13,983.97 for the benefit of Watts between February 2013 and March 2014.

The prosecution is of the belief that Isaac brought a proposal to the board in order to help with the collection of outstanding levies, and hired Watts as a bailiff on terms that the Board of Directors did not agree with — that is, paying him in excess of what they would have agreed upon.

The first witness called to the stand was David George, a former member of the board who was sitting on the building, finance and budget committees from around 2006-2014.

He testified that the board did in fact receive suggestions from Isaac to deal with the problem of delinquent customers and decided to get a bailiff to collect the funds.

He said they agreed, upon research, that the bailiff should be paid a certain amount which he could not recall at the time.

In his cross examination of the witness, Isaac’s attorney, Dane Hamilton Senior, suggested that the bailiff was entitled to a 10 percent commission, but George said that he thinks it was less than 10 percent.

Other witnesses were called to include former director and former chairman of the board Dr Ermina Osoba; a former board member Algernon Roberts; and the former commissioner of the Inland Revenue department, William Schouten. All three testified that Schouten was the key individual consulted in the process of figuring out how to hire a bailiff.

Schouten stated that he was contacted by the former executive secretary who wanted information on hiring a bailiff upon which time he forwarded the Bailiffs Act to her.

Hamilton then read Schouten’s statement to the police in which he stated that bailiffs were not entitled to commission.

The defense attorney then handed Schouten the Bailiffs Commission Act and asked him to read a section which expressly states that bailiffs are entitled to a 5 percent commission.

It was the testimony of Carolyn Charles-Tonge, former member of the budget committee that revealed that the board had agreed to give the bailiff a commission of 7.5 percent for every $100,000 collected.

It appears, however, that Watts was given 10 percent commission.

The trial will continue tomorrow with several other witnesses being called to give evidence.

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