Con-woman told to repay victims
FN News Editor
Realtor Daisymae Johnson has two years to pay back the nearly $145,000 to the people she admits she stole it from as part of a plea agreement - or spend six years in jail.
The 58-year-old pleaded guilty yesterday in the Supreme Court to 21 counts of stealing by reason of service.
Johnson posed as an agent of Gibraltar Real Estate and Land Development Company, which was established some time in 2007, and duped dozens of eager house hunters and property virgins out of thousands of dollars.
Initially, she was brought up on 10 counts in the Supreme Court via a voluntary bill of indictment and opted to plead guilty just before the start of her trial on Monday.
However, Senior Justice Hartman Longley adjourned the matter to yesterday to allow both sides to work out the terms of a plea agreement.
When the matter resumed, Prosecutor Darell Taylor informed the court that the plea agreement had included the additional 11 people who were initially on the indictment when the matter was first brought in the Magistrates Courts back in 2009.
Johnson was originally facing 10 years in prison but had that number shaved as a result of the plea agreement.
The prosecutor then laid out the case, revealing that after Gibraltar real estate commenced operation on Logwood sometime in 2008, Johnson had applied to the Grand Bahama Development Company for 22 lots to be developed in Heritage West.
But her request was denied after she failed to satisfy the development company's and proceeded with plans, without a license, and offered to the public for sale a house and lot package ranging from $109,000 to $179,000.
The court heard that once the deposits/down payments were made, the company issued receipts to the unsuspecting clients.
Each was promised that the house would be constructed in three months.
Taylor told the court that between Monday, March 23, 2009, and Friday, November 13, 2009, the police had received 21 complaints of stealing against Johnson.
Investigators soon learned that the company had not owned the properties and had no authorization to sell them.
According to Taylor, six of the properties that were shown and offered for sale were actually owned by Coral KFL Contractors, which was situated next door to Gibraltar.
Investigators also found the company never gave Gibraltar authorization to sell or conduct any business on its behalf.
In total, police found Johnson collected $144,785.34 from the 21 would-be homeowners.
After Johnson's attorney Elliott Lockhart informed the court that they accepted the facts, Senior Justice Longley told Johnson that the plea agreement will be filed into the records of the Supreme Court.
As part of the agreement, the judge explained, Johnson's six-year sentence is suspended for two years to permit her to make the agreed payments over a 22-month period.
The convicted thief is to make payments of $6,855 to the Supreme Court commencing November 19, 2012, and continue making them every second Monday of each month.
"You are to comply with the terms of that agreement," Justice Longley told her.
Should Johnson default on three consecutive payments, she will immediately commence serving her six year custodial sentence.
Johnson is also required to report to the Cable Beach Police Station in New Providence every Monday and Friday before 6:00 p.m.
Should she miss three reporting schedules, the terms of the agreement will be void and her six year sentence is to be imposed.
Additionally, Johnson is to complete two years of community service for two hours weekly.
In the event she fully completes the terms of the agreement, the judge told Johnson that at the successful end of the period she will be discharged.
Following the sentencing hearing, Johnson walked out of the courtroom.
Initially, she dodged the cameras but later decided to allow her picture to be taken.
Johnson had no comment and referred the media to her lawyer who would only say that he believed the court made the right decision.
One of her victims, Ella Pratt, who is still waiting for her $8,000, told The Freeport News yesterday she can now only wait and see what the outcome will be.
"It's not over yet. Until the money starts coming in and I can see that I'm getting all of my monies back, I am still at a loss," she said.
Pratt admitted that she is relieved that the process is complete, but is aware that if Johnson doesn't pay any money to the court, it will not be resolved.
Pratt said in retrospect she wishes she had gone back to Johnson for her money immediately after hearing the rumors that something may have been awry.
"Instead of waiting, when we first heard that stuff was going on, things weren't happening and people were complaining, I should have gone straight there, but I didn't go right away," she said.
"I wish I was one of those who got my money back, instead of having to now wait all this time."
While she questions the prison time that was agreed to, Pratt said she hopes Johnson takes heed.
"I would pray that she learns her lesson from this and does not wake up one morning and decide to try a similar scheme on other unsuspecting victims," she said, noting Johnson seemed legitimate and was truly convincing.
As for the fact that Johnson had maintained she had no money, Pratt also questioned where the money went and where she found the funds to pay for her lawyer.
© 2012 The Freeport News