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Quadriplegic was afraid of repercussions from former lawyer

A disabled woman who allegedly lost $80,000 to her lawyer had urged police not to pursue charges out of fear of retaliation, the Supreme Court heard yesterday.

Jacqueline MacLellan, the former employer of Nancy Vieira, agreed in cross examination that victim Kirsten Badenduck had “made it clear” to police that she did not want Ms Vieira prosecuted.

But she added: “She was afraid of repercussions from Ms Vieira.”

Ms MacLellan told the court that after she took over as Ms Badenduck’s attorney, she had filed a complaint against Ms Vieira to the Bermuda Bar Association and took part in a police interview with the victim.

She said she could not recall if she had interjected in the interview “on a number of occasions” as suggested by Victoria Greening, counsel for Ms Vieira.

However Ms MacLellan maintained that she had questioned Ms Vieira about a claim that she had told the victim she wanted to borrow $50,000 for a “buy-in” to become a partner at her firm shortly after the allegations were raised.

She had told the court that no such offer had ever been discussed.

Ms Vieira, from Pembroke, has denied charges that she dishonestly obtained a $50,000 money transfer from Ms Badenduck between January and July 2016.

She has further denied allegations that she stole $28,615 from Ms Badenduck through unauthorised ATM withdrawals and $7,601 through unauthorised debit card transactions between August 2015 and October 2016.

Ms MacLellan, who employed Ms Vieira at MacLellan and Associates until November 2016, told the court that the defendant had brought Ms Badenduck to the firm as a client in 2015.

She said the firm had been hired to address an issue regarding a caregiver accused of theft – a matter Ms MacLellan believed was resolved by April 2016.

However she said she was shocked to discover in November of that year that Ms Vieira had been given power of attorney over Ms Badenduck and had been managing her affairs.

Ms MacLellan said: “She should have told me. Her employment contract said that she was working for me. I did not permit her to conduct her own cases.”

She said that after the meeting with Ms Vieira, Ms Badenduck’s brother removed the defendant’s power of attorney and placed it with herself.

Ms MacLellan also said that she filed a complaint against Ms Vieira to the Bermuda Bar Association.

She added: “I made the complaint on behalf of Ms Badenduck because she wanted me to, but I would have done it myself if she hadn’t.”

Ms MacLellan said she retained the power of attorney until Ms Badenduck died in 2019.

“My role was limited to whatever legal issues the might have,” she said.

Under cross examination, she confirmed that while Ms Badenduck was the firm’s client, the matter of the caregiver had been brought to the firm by Ms Badenduck’s brother, who also held power of attorney over her.

Ms Greening suggested that Ms MacLellan could not say for sure what actions Ms Badenduck’s brother had authorised Ms Vieira to carry out.

She responded: “My information comes from Ms Badenduck and from what Nancy told me.”

The trial continues.

It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding criminal court cases. This is to prevent any statements being published that may jeopardise the outcome of that case.