Tuesday, May 26, 2020
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Lawyer renews call to toss Frank Smith’s case

The lawyer for former Senator Frank Smith yesterday renewed calls for a magistrate to end his corruption trial over a discrepancy that he says undermines the prosecution’s case.

Prosecutors have conceded that their case centers on the issue of whether Smith actually met his accuser, cleaning company owner Barbara Hanna, before she was awarded a $516,000 annual contract to clean the critical care unit of Princess Margaret Hospital.

Smith’s lead lawyer Keith Knight, QC, asked Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt to immediately dismiss the matter based on the prosecution’s concession.

Lead prosecutor Edward Jenkins, QC, said, “If there is no evidence [of the meeting] the bribery charge will fail and the extortion charges will fail.”

After the luncheon adjournment, Knight asked the stenographer to read back Jenkins’ remarks.

He then said, “Based on what he has said, there is no need for this trial to continue today, tomorrow or Saturday.”

Knight has pointed out that Hanna’s testimony about meeting Smith in 2016 prior to the award of the contract is at variance with PHA documents that show that the board passed a resolution that awarded the contract on December 23, 2015.

Knight has also pointed out that investigating officer Superintendent Uel Johnson suggested to Smith that he met with Hanna in March 2016, prior to the award of the contract.

However, Jenkins reasoned that Hanna was merely mistaken about the date of the meeting, but urged the court to find that the meeting occurred.

Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt then questioned whether the investigation was “flawed” from the outset.

A visibly upset Ferguson-Pratt said that the court was “unhappy” about the turn of events.

She asked, “You mean to tell me that had the defense not brought it up, the Crown in all its deliberations could not contemplate these issues when Smith was taken into custody and when a decision was made to charge?”

Ferguson-Pratt then took an adjournment and met the defense and prosecution in her chambers prior to ending the trial for the day.

Also, Jenkins said that there was evidence that Hanna was paying the $5,000 monthly bribe to Smith.

Ferguson-Pratt interjected, “I’m hoping I am not being urged to consider what Barbara Hanna said.”

Jenkins replied, “What she has said is sufficient.”

But Ferguson-Pratt insisted that there was nothing to corroborate her claims of the payments.

To that, Jenkins said: “Corruption happens in private and is not advertised.”

The matter resumes at 10:30 a.m. today.

Senior Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Artesia primarily covers court stories, but she also writes extensively about crime.
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