Categorized | Entertainment, Local, News

Cassell convicted: to serve 5 years in prison

Judge talks of death threats on Facebook prior to sentencing

by Bennette Roach

Attorney Warren Cassell

The research would have to be done to confirm that the just concluded case the Queen versus Warren Cassell, Attorney at Law who was called to the bar in 2000, is not the longest trial in Montserrat’s history.

At the end of the trial after four weeks less one day, after a guilty verdict of 8-1, sentencing was handed down by the presiding Justice Albert Redhead one week later, on Thursday, February 23, 2012 resulting in Cassell’s imprisonment for five years.

One lawyer wrote immediately following the guilty verdict, “a travesty of justice.” Following that after the sentence as one news writer reported, Pleas for leniency and a non-custodial sentence for convicted attorney Warren Cassell fell on deaf ears…”

Two Montserrat attorneys-at-law, as well as one other, a lady, wrote prior to the sentencing, along with P. Austin Bramble, a former chief minister of Montserrat had given evidence of Cassell’s character and had asked the court to consider he lived with his wife and three young children. A senior member in parish priest Fr. George Agger of the Roman Catholic community on Montserrat, asked the court to show Cassell compassion and to be lenient because he is a first time offender and to grant a non-custodial sentence.

Cassell’s defence attorney Leon ‘Chaku’ Symester, who after the guilty verdict on Thursday, Feb. 15, asked the court to allow his client, time to put his house in order, had his request was denied. After his client Cassell was instead remanded to prison, said prior to sentencing that the social enquiry report indicates his client’s previous good character and remorse for his actions, as he also sought leniency of the judge. But Justice Redhead said he would give consideration to the fact Cassell has three children, but he would also be guided by the law and not the convict’s position or popularity. He said also said he seriously considered the appeals but has made his decision in keeping with the law, his conscience and the court.

The Montserrat born and raised attorney and his company Cassell & Lewis Inc. were charged initially with 28 counts in a case where the complainant was Owen M. Rooney an American residing in Los Angeles, California.

There is a co-conspirator named in Colonel Walter Alexander Wood 111, an American formerly of 9441 Lily Dhu Lane, Falls Church, Virginia 22044 and now residing in California. The case surrounded these parties with regards to properties, lots of lands in Virgin Islands and a company Providence Estate Limited.

Before the trial of this Case No. MNIHCR 2009/0011 which began on January 25, 2012, two of the counts were thrown out while at the end of the prosecution’s presentation and before closing of the case the Indictment was amended, cancelled,  ending with a ‘new’ Indictment and a new plea by the accused with 12 counts, dated 15th February, 2012.

The 12 counts were as follows: Counts 1 and 2: CONSPIRACY TO DEFRAUD: Contrary to Common Law, in that Warren Cassell and Cassell and Lewis Incorporated between the 1st day of January 2007 and 30th day of June 2011 in the Overseas Territory of Montserrat falsely representing that you were lawfully entitled to act on behalf of Providence Estate Limited, conspired with Walter A Wood III and other persons unknown to defraud Owen Rooney and Providence Estate ltd. of certain property comprising of land at St. Peters…

Counts 3 – 11: each for PROCURING EXECUTION OF VALUABLE SECURITY BY DECEPTION: Contrary to section 225(2) of the Penal Code, in that Warren Cassell and Cassell and Lewis Incorporated between the 1st day of January 2007 and 30th day of June 2011,  with a view to gain for themselves, dishonestly procured (nine different persons), to execute a valuable security namely cheques,  land transfers memorandum and a wire transfer  for (various amounts) totaling over about $1,530,767.25  Eastern Caribbean Currency, by deception, namely by falsely representing to the various persons that they were lawfully entitled to sell land namely, various lots of land and property owned by Providence Estate Limited.

Section 225(2) reads: (2) Any person who dishonestly, with a view to gain for himself or another or with intent to cause loss to another, by any deception procures the execution of a valuable security shall be guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for seven years.

Count 12: MONEY LAUNDERING; CONTRARY TO section 118(a) of the Proceeds Crime Act 2010; for that WARREN CASSELL Between and 1st January 2007 and 30th Day June 2011, in the Overseas Territory of Montserrat, concealed certain criminal property namely EC$1,530,767.25   being the proceeds of Criminal Conduct.

118.(1) Subject to subsection (2), a person is guilty of an offence if he— (a) conceals criminal property

(4) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable—

(b) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years or to a fine without limit or to both.

The judge’s summation and direction to the jury is not immediately available; The jury after being sequestered since summations began, and after deliberating four hours returned a verdict of guilty.

The Sentencing:

1. On first count for Conspiracy to defraud the 2nd Accused, Cassell & Lewis Incorporated is fined $125,000.00 to be paid in two (2) years in default two (2) years imprisonment.

Accused No.1 Warren Cassell is discharged.

2. On Second Count – both Accused Warren Cassell and Cassell & Lewis Incorporated are discharged.

3. Counts 3 -11 – Accused No. 1 Warren Cassell is sentenced to two (2) years imprisonment.
Accused No.2 – Cassell & Lewis Inc. is discharged on counts 3-11 .

4. Count 12 – Accused is sentenced to five (5) years imprisonment.

5. Counts 3-12 are to run concurrently, that means a total of five  (5) years imprisonment.

The prosecution supported their charges with several witnesses including the complainant who in well-rehearsed format continually accused the defendant of having hijacked his company.

Summary of prosecutions case

The following is a very brief look at the Prosecution’s summary of the evidence and by no means the totality of the evidence and by no means the totality of the evidenc. The exerpts were taken from information provided by the DPP’s office in its rough form and many not flow.

The prosecution posited that Cassell bought the majority shareholder’s Walter Wood’s 60% interest in Providence Estate Ltd. that he subsequently replaced Wood as the Director, then becoming sole director of the company he sold the company’s lots. On July 30th 2007 in the presence of a Virginian Notary Public, in ,consideration of $300,000 US Wood transferred his 60% ownership of PEL to Cassell and Lewis Ltd, a Montserrat company solely owned by the defendant.

 In the meantime Owen Rooney who owned 40% of the company had between himself and Wood, who had funded the entire company, had agreements to own some of the lots of the company outright.  Some of the lots were registered in his name others not. Both men had made financial arrangements between them as to ownership division of the lands.

The prosecution in its summary showed that there was some confusion as to the existence of Rooney and whether he was dead or alive.

It is alleged that during this meeting one of the parties intimated that the complainant was dead. On July 30th 2007 in the presence of a Virginian Notary Public, in consideration of $300,000 US Wood transferred his 60% ownership of PEL to Cassell and Lewis Ltd, a Montserrat company solely owned by the defendant.

On September xx 2007 the defendant sent an emai1 titled Offer to Rooney re Providence Estate (Rooney’s exhibit 01VIR-26-0MR-26D or pages 253-258) to Mr. Hogarth Sergeant, the complainant’s lawyer in Montserrat, offering 3 options to resolve matters with the complainant. Inter a1i’a he also stated that, first and foremost when I bought the shares from Mr. Wood, he indicated to me that Mr. Rooney was either dead or avoiding…

 Wood, in an interrogatory during a civil suit in Virginia USA, said that the defendant contacted him in May 2007 in reference to buying his (Wood’s) 60% of PEL, that the defendant did not tell him that the complainant had died and that at no time did he learn unequivocally of the complainant’s death

The prosecution moved on the grounds: On September 21 2007, Wood submitted an affidavit (Registrar of Companies exhibit pages 690-691) to the High Court in Montserrat saying that he was a director of PEL and he had sold all his shares in the company to Cassell and Lewis which is solely owned by Warren Cassell, that he was aware that the company was struck off for not paying taxes between 1990 and 2001 and that as a director of the company he authorized the application to restore the company to the Register to transfer his shares and to allow Warren Cassell to be appointed a director of the company.

At this stage the defendant was the majority shareholder in PEL by virtue of Wood’s sale of 60% ownership in PEL to him. Shareholding status in a company (majority or otherwise) does not mean that directorship of the company is automatic. One has to be elected into that position by the present Board of Directors.

The prosecution promoted that Cassell was wrong to sell lots before he registered himself as director of PEL owning 60% of the shares and that he was as single director not authorized to sell property on behalf of the company.

 Cassell had in the meantime applied to the Registrar and restored the company that had been struck off the register. Rooney had later applied to restore the company. Cassell had offered Rooney to purchase his interest in the company.

 The prosecution believed that even if the defendant was now a legitimate director of PEL with 60% ownership, PEL’s transference of ownership of the above mentioned lots to the complainant is not extinguished with the defendant’s assumption of directorship and or ownership.

Finally the prosecution relied on evidence they offered to show – Cassell & Lewis Inc., and the defendant purportedly as director of PEL sold at least 10 lots at Providence Estate including lots 26 and 27 and between the period 21st September 2007 to 28th May 2008 were able to generate approximately $1.523 million EC or $564,300 US of which none was conveyed to or kept in escrow for the complainant.

It was out of that the money laundering charge arose.

Defense Case Summation

The defendant’s  attorney presented the defense to the charges in his cross  examination charging on the way that there were several procedural errors during the trial. He cross examined the complainant for more than a day testing his credibility and his reliability among other things.

The persons including prominent lawyer, named in the indictment as having bought lands from PEL were questioned by the defense as to their beliefs and information when they bought the lands, some ascertaining that they checked to make sure the company was in “good standing” and that Cassell had the authority to sell, offering advice to the same on the way.

That led the defence to offer in its summation of the case to the jury – when they bought their parcels they understood and knew they were buying from “Providence Estate Limited. They also understood and knew that Warren Cassell was a director of PEL. There was no evidence from any of them or anybody else that either of the defendants were dishonest or acted deceitfully.

 The bank evidence on question from the defence whether in all the transactions they reported on in evidence if they suspected anything suspicious.  E.g. one response: My duties to report suspicious activites. Such suspicious activities are reported to the FIU or if I need a referral I send to our compliance officer…I have not been informed of any suspicious activities been reported of Warren Cassell or Cassell & Lewis.

Another reported: As compliance officer, part of my duties was to report any suspicious activity to the authorities. I have never reported any suspicious activity regarding Warren Cassell or Cassell & Lewis.

The defence told the jury: And that’s what the bankers did. They spread the financial matters of Warren Cassell and Casell and Lewis out like a sheet. And in all that exposure there was no concealment of a single dollar let alone 1.5 million dollars.

In his summation the defence attorney spoke to the jury: His lordship will tell you that the Crown must prove the guilt of the defendants beyond a reasonable doubt. In considering the evidence ladies and gentlemen of the jury, What is proof beyond a reasonable doubt?

In the end following the Judge’s own summation and direction to the jury of nine, they returned a verdict of guilty, upon which the judge eventually pronounced sentence.

The last information on this matter that while Cassell, a specialist in Intellectual Property Law, sits in prison, found guilty of acting illegally in the transfer and sale of shares from one of the original shareholders of 53 acres of land to himself and company, an Appeal is being filed and an application made for his release on bail pending the appeal.

Last year, Casell starred in his second season of his Warren Cassell Show which was filmed in Antigua and initially aired on ABS TV as well as on television stations in his native Montserrat, St Kitts & Nevis.

QC Annesta Weeks and senior Crown Counsel Oris Sullivan appeared the Queen in the matter.

At the end there was surprised jubilation in some quarters of the people, mixed reaction otherwise, and those who opined that at best the matter was one for the civil courts. There have been much discussion in the gossip and discussion corridors as might be expected in this case which was considered as  “high profile”.

Juror struck off register

Meanwhile, in a matter that followed Cassell’s sentencing, a juror who serve in the case has been banned for life from serving in the Montserrat jurisdiction. The female juror was asked to be struck off the register Friday morning by judge Redhead for having a phone in her possession while she was sequestered during the trial. In addressing the court the juror said it was an honest mistake and apologised for her actions. The judge told the woman that she could have been fined or confined for contempt of court.

The jury was sequestered after summations began.

See Related: http://www.themontserratreporter.com/category/editorial – Was jubilation…
 

 

Leave a Reply

Please Support The Montserrat Reporter

This is bottom line for us! Unless we receive your support, our effort will not be able to continue. Whatever and however you can, please support The Montserrat Reporter in whatever amount you can (and whatever frequency) – and it only takes a minute.
Thank you

TMR print pages

Flow Xmas Handset Offer-Prepaid ZTE LITE 7-day

Know about your Land Transactions

Newsletter

Archives

Bank of Montserrat – Scholarship Offer

FLOW - Back to School

https://www.themontserratreporter.com/mni-back-to-school/
https://indd.adobe.com/embed/2b4deb22-cf03-4509-9bbd-938c7e8ecc7d

Judge talks of death threats on Facebook prior to sentencing

by Bennette Roach

Attorney Warren Cassell

Insert Ads Here

The research would have to be done to confirm that the just concluded case the Queen versus Warren Cassell, Attorney at Law who was called to the bar in 2000, is not the longest trial in Montserrat’s history.

At the end of the trial after four weeks less one day, after a guilty verdict of 8-1, sentencing was handed down by the presiding Justice Albert Redhead one week later, on Thursday, February 23, 2012 resulting in Cassell’s imprisonment for five years.

One lawyer wrote immediately following the guilty verdict, “a travesty of justice.” Following that after the sentence as one news writer reported, Pleas for leniency and a non-custodial sentence for convicted attorney Warren Cassell fell on deaf ears…”

Two Montserrat attorneys-at-law, as well as one other, a lady, wrote prior to the sentencing, along with P. Austin Bramble, a former chief minister of Montserrat had given evidence of Cassell’s character and had asked the court to consider he lived with his wife and three young children. A senior member in parish priest Fr. George Agger of the Roman Catholic community on Montserrat, asked the court to show Cassell compassion and to be lenient because he is a first time offender and to grant a non-custodial sentence.

Cassell’s defence attorney Leon ‘Chaku’ Symester, who after the guilty verdict on Thursday, Feb. 15, asked the court to allow his client, time to put his house in order, had his request was denied. After his client Cassell was instead remanded to prison, said prior to sentencing that the social enquiry report indicates his client’s previous good character and remorse for his actions, as he also sought leniency of the judge. But Justice Redhead said he would give consideration to the fact Cassell has three children, but he would also be guided by the law and not the convict’s position or popularity. He said also said he seriously considered the appeals but has made his decision in keeping with the law, his conscience and the court.

The Montserrat born and raised attorney and his company Cassell & Lewis Inc. were charged initially with 28 counts in a case where the complainant was Owen M. Rooney an American residing in Los Angeles, California.

There is a co-conspirator named in Colonel Walter Alexander Wood 111, an American formerly of 9441 Lily Dhu Lane, Falls Church, Virginia 22044 and now residing in California. The case surrounded these parties with regards to properties, lots of lands in Virgin Islands and a company Providence Estate Limited.

Before the trial of this Case No. MNIHCR 2009/0011 which began on January 25, 2012, two of the counts were thrown out while at the end of the prosecution’s presentation and before closing of the case the Indictment was amended, cancelled,  ending with a ‘new’ Indictment and a new plea by the accused with 12 counts, dated 15th February, 2012.

The 12 counts were as follows: Counts 1 and 2: CONSPIRACY TO DEFRAUD: Contrary to Common Law, in that Warren Cassell and Cassell and Lewis Incorporated between the 1st day of January 2007 and 30th day of June 2011 in the Overseas Territory of Montserrat falsely representing that you were lawfully entitled to act on behalf of Providence Estate Limited, conspired with Walter A Wood III and other persons unknown to defraud Owen Rooney and Providence Estate ltd. of certain property comprising of land at St. Peters…

Counts 3 – 11: each for PROCURING EXECUTION OF VALUABLE SECURITY BY DECEPTION: Contrary to section 225(2) of the Penal Code, in that Warren Cassell and Cassell and Lewis Incorporated between the 1st day of January 2007 and 30th day of June 2011,  with a view to gain for themselves, dishonestly procured (nine different persons), to execute a valuable security namely cheques,  land transfers memorandum and a wire transfer  for (various amounts) totaling over about $1,530,767.25  Eastern Caribbean Currency, by deception, namely by falsely representing to the various persons that they were lawfully entitled to sell land namely, various lots of land and property owned by Providence Estate Limited.

Section 225(2) reads: (2) Any person who dishonestly, with a view to gain for himself or another or with intent to cause loss to another, by any deception procures the execution of a valuable security shall be guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for seven years.

Count 12: MONEY LAUNDERING; CONTRARY TO section 118(a) of the Proceeds Crime Act 2010; for that WARREN CASSELL Between and 1st January 2007 and 30th Day June 2011, in the Overseas Territory of Montserrat, concealed certain criminal property namely EC$1,530,767.25   being the proceeds of Criminal Conduct.

118.(1) Subject to subsection (2), a person is guilty of an offence if he— (a) conceals criminal property

(4) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable—

(b) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years or to a fine without limit or to both.

The judge’s summation and direction to the jury is not immediately available; The jury after being sequestered since summations began, and after deliberating four hours returned a verdict of guilty.

The Sentencing:

1. On first count for Conspiracy to defraud the 2nd Accused, Cassell & Lewis Incorporated is fined $125,000.00 to be paid in two (2) years in default two (2) years imprisonment.

Accused No.1 Warren Cassell is discharged.

2. On Second Count – both Accused Warren Cassell and Cassell & Lewis Incorporated are discharged.

3. Counts 3 -11 – Accused No. 1 Warren Cassell is sentenced to two (2) years imprisonment.
Accused No.2 – Cassell & Lewis Inc. is discharged on counts 3-11 .

4. Count 12 – Accused is sentenced to five (5) years imprisonment.

5. Counts 3-12 are to run concurrently, that means a total of five  (5) years imprisonment.

The prosecution supported their charges with several witnesses including the complainant who in well-rehearsed format continually accused the defendant of having hijacked his company.

Summary of prosecutions case

The following is a very brief look at the Prosecution’s summary of the evidence and by no means the totality of the evidence and by no means the totality of the evidenc. The exerpts were taken from information provided by the DPP’s office in its rough form and many not flow.

The prosecution posited that Cassell bought the majority shareholder’s Walter Wood’s 60% interest in Providence Estate Ltd. that he subsequently replaced Wood as the Director, then becoming sole director of the company he sold the company’s lots. On July 30th 2007 in the presence of a Virginian Notary Public, in ,consideration of $300,000 US Wood transferred his 60% ownership of PEL to Cassell and Lewis Ltd, a Montserrat company solely owned by the defendant.

 In the meantime Owen Rooney who owned 40% of the company had between himself and Wood, who had funded the entire company, had agreements to own some of the lots of the company outright.  Some of the lots were registered in his name others not. Both men had made financial arrangements between them as to ownership division of the lands.

The prosecution in its summary showed that there was some confusion as to the existence of Rooney and whether he was dead or alive.

It is alleged that during this meeting one of the parties intimated that the complainant was dead. On July 30th 2007 in the presence of a Virginian Notary Public, in consideration of $300,000 US Wood transferred his 60% ownership of PEL to Cassell and Lewis Ltd, a Montserrat company solely owned by the defendant.

On September xx 2007 the defendant sent an emai1 titled Offer to Rooney re Providence Estate (Rooney’s exhibit 01VIR-26-0MR-26D or pages 253-258) to Mr. Hogarth Sergeant, the complainant’s lawyer in Montserrat, offering 3 options to resolve matters with the complainant. Inter a1i’a he also stated that, first and foremost when I bought the shares from Mr. Wood, he indicated to me that Mr. Rooney was either dead or avoiding…

 Wood, in an interrogatory during a civil suit in Virginia USA, said that the defendant contacted him in May 2007 in reference to buying his (Wood’s) 60% of PEL, that the defendant did not tell him that the complainant had died and that at no time did he learn unequivocally of the complainant’s death

The prosecution moved on the grounds: On September 21 2007, Wood submitted an affidavit (Registrar of Companies exhibit pages 690-691) to the High Court in Montserrat saying that he was a director of PEL and he had sold all his shares in the company to Cassell and Lewis which is solely owned by Warren Cassell, that he was aware that the company was struck off for not paying taxes between 1990 and 2001 and that as a director of the company he authorized the application to restore the company to the Register to transfer his shares and to allow Warren Cassell to be appointed a director of the company.

At this stage the defendant was the majority shareholder in PEL by virtue of Wood’s sale of 60% ownership in PEL to him. Shareholding status in a company (majority or otherwise) does not mean that directorship of the company is automatic. One has to be elected into that position by the present Board of Directors.

The prosecution promoted that Cassell was wrong to sell lots before he registered himself as director of PEL owning 60% of the shares and that he was as single director not authorized to sell property on behalf of the company.

 Cassell had in the meantime applied to the Registrar and restored the company that had been struck off the register. Rooney had later applied to restore the company. Cassell had offered Rooney to purchase his interest in the company.

 The prosecution believed that even if the defendant was now a legitimate director of PEL with 60% ownership, PEL’s transference of ownership of the above mentioned lots to the complainant is not extinguished with the defendant’s assumption of directorship and or ownership.

Finally the prosecution relied on evidence they offered to show – Cassell & Lewis Inc., and the defendant purportedly as director of PEL sold at least 10 lots at Providence Estate including lots 26 and 27 and between the period 21st September 2007 to 28th May 2008 were able to generate approximately $1.523 million EC or $564,300 US of which none was conveyed to or kept in escrow for the complainant.

It was out of that the money laundering charge arose.

Defense Case Summation

The defendant’s  attorney presented the defense to the charges in his cross  examination charging on the way that there were several procedural errors during the trial. He cross examined the complainant for more than a day testing his credibility and his reliability among other things.

The persons including prominent lawyer, named in the indictment as having bought lands from PEL were questioned by the defense as to their beliefs and information when they bought the lands, some ascertaining that they checked to make sure the company was in “good standing” and that Cassell had the authority to sell, offering advice to the same on the way.

That led the defence to offer in its summation of the case to the jury – when they bought their parcels they understood and knew they were buying from “Providence Estate Limited. They also understood and knew that Warren Cassell was a director of PEL. There was no evidence from any of them or anybody else that either of the defendants were dishonest or acted deceitfully.

 The bank evidence on question from the defence whether in all the transactions they reported on in evidence if they suspected anything suspicious.  E.g. one response: My duties to report suspicious activites. Such suspicious activities are reported to the FIU or if I need a referral I send to our compliance officer…I have not been informed of any suspicious activities been reported of Warren Cassell or Cassell & Lewis.

Another reported: As compliance officer, part of my duties was to report any suspicious activity to the authorities. I have never reported any suspicious activity regarding Warren Cassell or Cassell & Lewis.

The defence told the jury: And that’s what the bankers did. They spread the financial matters of Warren Cassell and Casell and Lewis out like a sheet. And in all that exposure there was no concealment of a single dollar let alone 1.5 million dollars.

In his summation the defence attorney spoke to the jury: His lordship will tell you that the Crown must prove the guilt of the defendants beyond a reasonable doubt. In considering the evidence ladies and gentlemen of the jury, What is proof beyond a reasonable doubt?

In the end following the Judge’s own summation and direction to the jury of nine, they returned a verdict of guilty, upon which the judge eventually pronounced sentence.

The last information on this matter that while Cassell, a specialist in Intellectual Property Law, sits in prison, found guilty of acting illegally in the transfer and sale of shares from one of the original shareholders of 53 acres of land to himself and company, an Appeal is being filed and an application made for his release on bail pending the appeal.

Last year, Casell starred in his second season of his Warren Cassell Show which was filmed in Antigua and initially aired on ABS TV as well as on television stations in his native Montserrat, St Kitts & Nevis.

QC Annesta Weeks and senior Crown Counsel Oris Sullivan appeared the Queen in the matter.

At the end there was surprised jubilation in some quarters of the people, mixed reaction otherwise, and those who opined that at best the matter was one for the civil courts. There have been much discussion in the gossip and discussion corridors as might be expected in this case which was considered as  “high profile”.

Juror struck off register

Meanwhile, in a matter that followed Cassell’s sentencing, a juror who serve in the case has been banned for life from serving in the Montserrat jurisdiction. The female juror was asked to be struck off the register Friday morning by judge Redhead for having a phone in her possession while she was sequestered during the trial. In addressing the court the juror said it was an honest mistake and apologised for her actions. The judge told the woman that she could have been fined or confined for contempt of court.

The jury was sequestered after summations began.

See Related: http://www.themontserratreporter.com/category/editorial – Was jubilation…