By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
AN attorney whose extended compensation order deadline ends today, could enter 2013 behinds bars if she fails to restore nearly $100,000 she stole from a client.
December 31 was the new deadline granted to 42-year-old Sonia Timothy Serrette after she told the court in mid-November that her efforts to secure proceeds from two civil judgements fell through.
Serrette and attorney Koed Smith asked the court for an extension to secure the $96,967.50 she stole from retired teacher Fiordelisa Bain.
She was convicted of stealing by reason of service on August 15 and was remanded to Her Majesty’s Prison for six weeks before returning to court for a report on whether the victim would be compensated.
On October 12, Serrette’s attorney, Geoffrey Farquharson, told the court that the convict’s friends and associates, whom she relied on to handle her affairs, were not able to gather the money.
Mr Farquharson said Serrette would be able to pay the victim if she was free to handle her own affairs.
He asked the court to consider a compensation order instead of prison time.
Deputy Chief Magistrate Bethell said such an order could only be given with the consent of the victim.
Ms Bain came to court and gave permission for the order to be made.
The compensation order was made and Serrette was given a month’s time by Deputy Chief Magistrate Bethell to restore the funds to the victim, who attends Serrette’s church.
However, on November 19, the victim informed the magistrate she had received no funds to date.
Mr Smith said his client had made attempts but was unable to secure the $120,000 due to her as a result of two judgments she won in the Supreme Court.
Serrette had offered an alternative to the complainant in the form of property in Andros valued at twice the amount owed, the court heard.
The magistrate said she recalled the property could not be found when a search was done.
Serrette and her attorney then offered the conveyance of her beach front property in Eleuthera, which they said was also worth double what is owed.
Mr Smith asked the court to use its discretion and give his client additional time to make the necessary arrangements.
Deputy Chief Magistrate Bethell said she would have to get consent for an extension from the complainant, who has been ‘out of pocket’ and in debt since her money was stolen in 2009.
Ms Bain said she would give them more time but expressed firmly that she did not want property, but rather her money back.
The attorney agreed with the magistrate’s suggestion that it was possible to get a bank loan, using the properties as collateral, and thereby restore the funds.
The extension ends today. Serrette faces two-years imprisonment if she is unable to make restitution.