Attorney-at-law Vonda Minerva Pile who is accused of stealing US$96,008.22 belonging to a former client has gone on trial in the No. 5 Supreme Court before a nine-member jury.
Pile denied stealing the money belonging to Anstey King between April 29, 2009 and October 26, 2010.
She also pleaded not guilty to engaging in the disposal of the BDS$191,416. 39 during that time, being the proceeds of crime.
Today, lead investigator Sergeant Heather Pinder, attached to the Financial Crimes Investigation Unit, was the only one to give evidence when acting Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Anthony Blackman and Senior Crown Counsel Krystal Delaney opened the case against Pile who is self represented.
In his opening statement to the jury Blackman gave a summary of the facts of the case saying that King engaged Pile’s services as a barrister sometime in 2009 in his bid to purchase land. Discussions took place and King who lives in the United States began sending money back to Barbados. He returned to Barbados at one point to see the land that he was seeking to acquire and “he concluded that what was shown [to him] was not the land that he had expressed an interest in purchasing”. He requested his money back and according to the prosecutor only a portion of the money was returned.
Officer Pinder told the jury and Madam Justice Pamela Beckles that she interviewed King on October 26, 2010 on this issue and her investigations spanned over a two-year period until August 11, 2013.
She revealed that she acquired documents as well as banking information from CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank, the land registry, the tax office, King and a land surveyor.
Pinder said she interviewed Pile on July 20, 2011 on the matter and informed her of the allegation leveled against her by King — that between January 7, 2009 and October 20, 2010 “he paid her the sum of $145,000 US currency for a [plot] of land which he never obtained. He further reported that he requested a refund of his money and he was refunded $48, 000 by her . . . leaving a balance of $191, 000 plus dollars”.
The officer said she asked Pile several questions. Pile, she said, denied taking King to Maxwell, Christ Church and pointing out land boundaries but admitted that a surveyor did. She also asked Pile whether she had quoted a price of between $290, 000 to $295, 000 as the cost of the land.
“She replied ‘no I think it would have been $260, 000 Barbados currency’.”
During cross-examination Pile asked the officer whether King had ever informed the land surveyor Andrew Bannister that he wanted a refund of his money to which she said no.
The officer also revealed that the complainant had not told her that he had been told in writing or verbally that the estate of the vendor was probated. Neither was she told by King that he was informed and it was also recorded in an agreement that he would have to forfeit his deposit if he wanted the sale to end.
Pinder also admitted that Pile gave her all the information that she requested during her investigations.
The case continues tomorrow.