Police clerk locked up for voiding parking tickets
A police clerk who abused her position to cancel 79 parking tickets h as been jailed for a year.
Jahmeeka Wilson, 27, was originally fined $8,100 by a Magistrate after pleading guilty last year to official corruption and conspiring to defraud the Government.
However, prosecutor Cindy Clarke successfully challenged the punishment, telling Supreme Court the fine was “manifestly inadequate”.
Chief Justice Richard Ground agreed during a hearing earlier this week, and locked Wilson up for 12 months telling her she committed a serious offence and betrayed a position of trust.
Wilson’s original Magistrates’ Court hearing heard she pulled nine tickets for her sister and 70 more for other people when working as a data input clerk at Magistrates’ Court.
Police Sergeant Paul Ridley presented e-mails and text messages illustrating how she removed tickets from the system in exchange for cash.
The mother-of-two was arrested and bailed over the matter in October 2010, but later arrested again at the airport as she attempted to leave for the United States.
The fine was meted out by Magistrate Graveney Bannister after defence lawyer Marc Daniels urged him not to jail Ms Wilson, of Mount Hill, Pembroke.
However, Ms Clarke argued: “The sentence imposed fails to reflect the established principles for offences of this nature, and does not take into account the needs of society.”
She described corruption and conspiracy to defraud as “serious crimes” and said the sentence was “unduly lenient” and out of line with past cases.
She also pointed out the Magistrate could have jailed Wilson for up to a year for conspiracy to defraud and up to three years for official corruption.
“The acts of [Wilson] were highly reprehensible and sufficiently serious, and [Wilson] sufficiently blameworthy to warrant a significantly greater penalty,” said Ms Clarke.
Replacing the fines with a jail sentence and sending Wilson to the cells immediately, the Chief Justice explained the sentence is made up of 12 months for the official corruption and six months for conspiring to defraud the government, to run concurrently.
The Royal Gazette reported at the time of the original case that Wilson hadn’t been fired from her job, as her employment as a civilian member of police support staff was governed by the Bermuda Public Services Union collective agreement.
That meant the head of the Civil Service had to be consulted about her future employment status.
She had, however, been removed from her duties dealing with parking tickets.
Head of the Civil Service Donald Scott and General Secretary of the Bermuda Public Services Union Ed Ball Jr could not be reached yesterday for an update, but Commissioner of Police Michael DeSilva responded: “As a result of Ms Wilson’s conviction last year, she was terminated from her post as a data input clerk with the Bermuda Police Service in December.”
A fellow officer, Kevin Cabral, was initially charged with perverting the course of justice in connection with the case, but later saw the charge against him dropped by the Crown. However, he was suspended from duty for nine months.
Mr DeSilva said: “Pc Cabral has been reinstated to duty and transferred to another department. Discipline charges have been laid and he will be the subject of an internal hearing soon.”