By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
CONTRACTOR and Progressive Liberal Party campaign general Carlos Lamm, after a trial lasting four years, was convicted in Magistrate’s Court Monday for possession of dangerous drugs with intent to supply.
While his co-accused, former girlfriend Latisha McKenzie, was acquitted and discharged by Deputy Chief Magistrate Carolita Bethell, the 43-year-old JFK
Construction head was convicted and sentenced to serve a term of one year at Her Majesty’s Prison.
The deputy chief magistrate also ordered a $5,000 fine, saying Lamm must pay it before the end of his term or face an additional year in prison.
According to Lamm’s attorney, Jiaram Mangra, the contractor intends to appeal the verdict. He said outside of court yesterday that the number of discrepancies in the prosecution’s case were too great to warrant a conviction.
Lamm came to public attention when opposition Senator Desmond Bannister questioned if government contracts worth more than $100,000 had been issued to a company owned by a man facing drug charges.
Speaking in the Senate, Mr Bannister tabled questions about the number and size of contracts issued to JFK Construction and Lamm by the Ministry of Education for school repairs.
He asked if it was true that neither Tender Board, nor Cabinet approval was sought for the contracts, worth more than $138,000.
Mr Bannister also asked if the size of the contracts exceeded all others issued for school repairs during the summer of 2012, with contracts issued to some other Bahamians being worth as low as $1,870.
Earlier, Education Minister Jerome Fitzgerald went on record in the House of Assembly denying any conflict of interest in the issuance of school repair contracts.
In October of last year, Magistrate Bethell chastised Lamm for breaching his bail conditions after he tried to report to the police station in Abaco instead of New Providence. He was in Abaco at the time because he was campaigning for the PLP in the North Abaco by-election.
Lamm, of Gray’s Terrace, and McKenzie of Pinewood Gardens, were standing trial charged with possessing dangerous drugs with intent to supply on March 9, 2009.
It was claimed that the pair, on the day in question, were in possession of three and a half pounds of marijuana.
In October last year, McKenzie testified that she had no knowledge of any drugs. She also denied that she told police the narcotics belonged to Carlos Lamm.
Lamm denied having any drugs when he testified in November. He said that on the day in question, a man in a camouflage outfit, who he could not identify, tried to get inside his rental car while he, his daughter, former girlfriend, and another man were in traffic on Bernard Road.
He also claimed to have no knowledge that the men pursuing him on a chase were the police.
In December, Murrio Ducille, who represented McKenzie, said prosecutors had failed to prove that his client knew of the drugs that were in the rental car.
Mr Mangra said the discrepancies in the testimony of two police officers were too great concerning whether they were in a marked car or if the sirens were on.
He further added that there were different accounts from the officers on where the drugs were thrown from the car. He said those discrepancies discredited the prosecution’s case.
In response to the submissions of the defence attorneys, ASP Ercell Dorsett said the prosecution had presented strong evidence that both defendants knew drugs were in the car when they were arrested by police.
Deputy Chief Magistrate Carolita Bethell was expected to make a ruling on that matter on January 16.
However, she said that two of the three trial transcripts came in late and the other had to be retrieved.
She said that she was prepared to deliver the ruling late in the afternoon, but there was no guarantee that the transcripts would be available in a reasonable time.
January 31 was the agreed date for the ruling. However, the final transcript was still not ready and the ruling was stood down to February 4.
In yesterday’s proceedings, Deputy Chief Magistrate Bethell went over the brief facts of the case before stating that the prosecution had not made out a case against the woman accused. The magistrate said she accepted the evidence of McKenzie who denied having knowledge of the drugs.
However, regarding Lamm, she said the Crown had produced strong and compelling evidence that linked the drugs to Lamm. She did not accept Lamm’s evidence and shortly thereafter convicted him of the offence with which he was charged while acquitting McKenzie.
After the plea in mitigation by Mr Mangra, the deputy chief magistrate took into account the number of years the matter was before the courts, the amount of drugs involved, the submissions by Mr Mangra, as well as Lamm’s actions during the incident, according to the evidence.
She said that a term of one year in prison was suitable punishment in addition to a $5,000 fine.
She stipulated that if Lamm failed to pay the fine, he would receive an additional year in Her Majesty’s Prison.