Amid expressions of disappointment from the public following the sentencing of the three remaining Medical Benefits Scheme (MBS) fraud convicts, High Court Judge Mario Michel yesterday said he was concerned about the comments but would stand by his ruling.
“I can not say that I am not concerned that several callers appeared unhappy, convinced as I am about the rectitude of my sentencing,” the judge said.
The adjudicator said if he were to be called upon to sentence Hilroy Humphreys, Elmeade Jarvis and Jennifer Joseph all over again, he would impose the same penalties given the charges, evidence before the court, mitigating and aggravating factors.
He said he had no doubt the sentences imposed were in keeping with the law and his duty is to “do what I think is right and not what is popular.”
Judge Michel’s remarks were made at the closing of the second term of the criminal law year, the January to April Criminal Assizes.
Humphreys, a former government minister who was convicted on one count of causing $25,811 to be dishonestly obtained from the MBS account in October 1999, was fined $50,000 and ordered to pay $51,622 compensation. The sums must be paid to the court and MBS respectively, within three months or he would be jailed for two years.
At the same time Joseph, a former employee Humphreys, was convicted on two counts of obtaining money by false pretense. She was ordered to compensate MBS the $15,000 she fraudulently collected in May 1999 and the $9,509.15 which she colleted in March 2000.
Her only link to MBS was Humphreys who was once a minister of health, though at the time of the offence he was minister of commerce and trade.
Both Humphreys and Joseph faced a maximum of five years in jail.
Jarvis, who got the most severe penalty, was the accountant at MBS when the crimes were committed. He was found guilty of three offences of fraudulently applying MBS monies to Humphreys and Joseph and faced seven years in jail.
Several persons weighed in on the judge’s decision on OBSERVER Radio’s Voice of the People on Monday and while some said Jarvis’ punishment was too harsh, they said the judge was light on Humphreys and Joseph.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)