By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
AN attorney convicted of stealing nearly $100,000 from a client could spend 2013 in prison if she does not repay the funds by New Years Eve.
December 31 is the new extended deadline granted to 42-year-old Sonia Timothy Serrette after she told the court yesterday 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, informed 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.
As yesterday’s proceeding began, the victim informed the magistrate she had received no funds to date.
Attorney Mr Smith rose to his feet and addressed the court, submitting that 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 Supreme Court.
Serrette had offered an alternative to the complainant in the form property in Andros valued at twice the amount owed, the court heard.
The magistrate interrupted and said she recalled the property could not be found when a search was done.
Mr Smith explained that the property emanated from Crown land.
Serrette and her attorney then offered the conveyance of her beach front property in Eleuthera, which they said was also worth double of 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 is possible to get a bank loan, using the properties as collateral, and thereby restore the funds.
The compensation order was extended to December 31. Serrette faces two-year imprisonment if she is unable to make restitution.