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Jul 23, 2009

Prime suspect charged for missing pension funds

Story PictureThree women have been named in connection with the over two hundred thousand dollars missing from a public service pension fund managed by the Treasury Department. Yesterday Rhea Pennil was the first to be charged, she faces charges for Handling Stolen Goods of over one hundred and fifty thousand dollars. But today Monica Escarpeta, a second class clerk from the Treasury Department and the prime suspect, was charged with theft of two hundred and ninety one thousand dollars, twenty-two dollars and twenty-six cents. If the hefty sum was not enough to make Escarpeta nervous, she was alone in court and Magistrate Harrison Heulett had to lend her his cell phone to locate her attorney. Escarpeta’s attorney Michael Peyrefitte was in Supreme Court dealing with another matter and arrived after the charges were read. The police prosecutor objected to bail on the grounds that Escarpeta might be a flight risk and may interfere with the investigation. But despite that objection, bail was granted at fifty thousand dollars plus a surety of the same amount. Michael Peyrefitte spoke to the media after this morning’s session.

Michael Peyrefitte, Attorney for Monica Escarpeta
“She’s been charged with theft from allegedly misappropriating funds of 290 thousand dollars some time between September 2007 and May 2009.”

Jose Sanchez
“Did she take a plea?”

Michael Peyrefitte
“No, she did not take a plea given the amount of money and given that it was above fifty thousand dollars, the magistrate in his discretion, decided to not take a plea in the event that the D.P.P. would want to take the matter to the Supreme Court. And the charge of Theft, once it’s a theft charge it’s an indictment.”

Jose Sanchez
“You mentioned that it might be possible that other charges would come around.”

Michael Peyrefitte
“That’s what they said. The police are bringing a charge; the onus is on them to prove that charge. We don’t have to say anything. The law gave us the right today that we don’t even have to plea. We won’t know the real status of the case until we get the disclosure from the Crown.”

Jose Sanchez
“They said your client was a flight risk. Why is that, they said she was staying in a hotel when the police were looking for her.”

Michael Peyrefitte
“Well that is news to me and the police know more than me. The police didn’t take the opportunity to try and prove to the court anything they were trying to say. All they did was give a bland terse objection to bail. But you have to have good reason why you’re objecting to bail. And obviously the magistrate did not agree to that.”

Rowland Parks, Amandala Press
“Mr. Peyrefitte, I understand a while ago Miss Escarpeta’s mother was also arrested. Can you comment on that?”

Michael Peyrefitte
“I was reliably informed while in court, the mother of Miss Escarpeta was arrested. Why the police would do that now, is beyond me.”

Escarpeta did not meet bail and tonight she remains remanded at the prison. There is no word yet on whether or not the third woman named, Karen Young will be charged.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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