Former Cabinet Minister Shane Gibson yesterday remained silent and avoided questioning by prosecutors, immediately after a judge ruled that he had a case to answer on 15 counts of bribery.
Gibson, who is accused of abusing his position as hurricane czar for personal gain from January 2017 to March 2017 by taking $280,000 from contractor Jonathan Ash to speed up payments for work associated with the cleanup following Hurricane Matthew in 2016, denied the allegations during a police interrogation.
After re-reading the charges to Gibson, Supreme Court Justice Carolita Bethell gave him two choices: to take the witness stand and to be subjected to cross-examination as the prosecution’s witnesses were or to remain silent.
Gibson replied, “I would like to exercise my option to remain silent.”
Gibson, however, called a single witness who attested to his good character but was unable to refute the allegations against him.
Questioned by attorney Owen Wells, former public servant Leanza Gardiner-Keju, who said she has known the defendant for 34 years, described Gibson as “a man of integrity with high moral standards”.
Gardiner-Keju said she first met Gibson when he was recruited for the youth choir at the Church of God of Prophecy in Englerston, where he met his wife.
Gardiner-Keju also had a working relationship with Gibson from 2012 to 2014 as permanent secretary in the Ministry of Public Service.
Wells asked, “Did he ever ask you to do anything that could be considered illegal or unethical?”
Gardiner-Keju replied, “Absolutely not.”
Wells asked, “When you heard the allegations of bribery, what were your thoughts?
She replied, “That’s not the man I know.”
In questioning by prosecutor James Guthrie QC, Gardiner-Keju acknowledged that she did not work at the National Recovery and Reconstruction Unit, which was set to deal with the cleanup and recovery efforts following Hurricane Matthew.
Guthrie asked, “Apart from what you have been told, do you know the details of the allegations against Shane Gibson?”
The witness replied, “I do not know the details.”
Lead defense lawyer K.D. Knight will make his closing address to the jury today.