Anstey King says all he wants is the balance of his money from accused attorney Vonda Minerva Pile.
“I feel stupid now for paying . . . all that money upfront,” King told a nine-member jury this morning as the theft and money laundering case against Pile continued in the No. 5 Supreme Court.
Pile has pleaded not guilty to stealing US$96,008.22 belonging to King between April 29, 2009 and October 26, 2010 and engaging in the disposal of the amount during the same time, being the proceeds of crime.
Today, King, who is Pile’s former client in a land deal, gave the court presided over by Madam Justice Pamela Beckles his account of the business between the two.
Responding to questions by Acting Director of Public Prosecutions Anthony Blackman, King who resides in Brooklyn, New York, revealed that he engaged Pile some years back in connection with purchasing a house at Strathclyde, St Michael. That process he said was “smooth with no problems”.
He explained that he was considering moving back here “full time” and needed a property for his business and since he was “confident” after his initial experience working with her he “acquired her services again” for the second time.
He said he spoke to Pile sometime in 2009 on whether she knew about potential plots for sale.
Pile, he said, took him to a property in Maxwell, Christ Church which was
“butting” the main road and she informed him that the price was “$290,000 – $295,000 Bajan. I said fine. I could afford that”. He then returned to New York and the attorney sent the contract stating the price and description of the land.
“I sent it back with a deposit of $20,000 US and it was notorised and that was the first transaction,” he told the court.
King said he subsequently received a call from the attorney telling him that the person who owned the property was sick and was anxious for the balance of the money.
“I don’t normally send all the money but I worked with Vonda before . . . so I got her . . . bank information so I could wire the money to her. My wife wired her $100, 000 US. I was planning on stalling and then come down. . . and close and pay the balance but Vonda called again. She kept calling saying the lady was very anxious, she was sick and needed the balance of the money and so I proceeded then and sent her an additional wire for $25,000 US,” he disclosed.
He said he then returned to Barbados to close the deal and went to Pile who sent him to one of her agents. They then ventured to the site.
“I said to him this is not what Vonda showed me . . . I said this cannot work I need to get a refund. I went back to her office and told her ‘what your agent showed me is not what you showed me and that I needed my money back’, because this doesn’t make any sense,” King said in his testimony. He said he pinned the attorney down to a date when the money would be returned and she told me April 14 she will give me back my money “in full” but that did not happen at that time.”
The witness said Pile subsequently refunded him $48,000.
“I was expecting a whole lot more. So I called her back and asked where is the balance. She said she going to send it, she going to send it, she going to send the balance and this went on for a while. But I had known her and we had a transaction before . . . and I was confident . . . I mean I feel stupid now paying somebody all that money upfront . . . but we had a working relationship and I felt [relatively] comfortable,” he explained.
King said he subsequently went to the police but that was the “last step”.
“. . . I went to the Bar first. I really tried to negotiate with her,” said King who added that he had no other pending transactions with outstanding balances, neither did he owe Pile any money or borrowed money from her.
In cross examination by Pile who is representing herself, King was shown the agreement but said that while the signatures were correct, this document did not have a date, and the amount was not the same as the amount he penned his signature to and notorised.
He also denied being told by the attorney that the vendor’s property was probated.
Pile challenged him saying that the only reason he wanted back his money was because there was no approval by the Chief Town Planner to which he said that was not the case.
He also said the conveyance before the court was not the one he received although the signatures to the back were his and that of his notary.
When questioned further he admitted that he had not paid Pile her fees for the work she had done.
“We did not close the transaction. I normally pay when you close. When you close is when you get paid,” King said even as he also admitted that he went to the police and reported that Pile had stolen his money before the estate was probated.
The case continues in the No. 5 Supreme Court tomorrow.