Two of the eight persons on trial for their alleged involvement in a criminal scheme that robbed the John F. Kennedy Medical Center (JFKMC) of L$15,774,742 and US$5,000 yesterday confessed to committing the crimes at the Temple of Justice.
The confession of defendants James Ricks, former clearing officer of the First International Bank (FIB), and Thomas Oliver Mezzeh came immediately when they and their colleagues were arraigned before Criminal Court C to establish whether or not they were guilty of the commission of the multiple crimes placed in their indictments.
The two, together with Patrick Konuwah and Rabeah Arnaus, former accounts officer and IT and database supervisor of the hospital, respectively; Jerry D. Morlu, caretaker at the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications and Flahn F. Borbor, former production manager of the Women Voices Newspaper, as well as Thomas G. Telewoyan and Benjamin W. Dargbe were charged with the crimes of economic sabotage, theft of property, money laundering, criminal conspiracy and facilitation. They had earlier denied any knowledge of the crimes until their two colleagues confessed yesterday in court.
The pair’s confession was made to the court through their respective lawyers.
For Mezzeh’s lawyer, Cllr. Memee S. Gongba, making his client’s confession, said: “Defendant Mezzeh conferred judgment, and as such, he filed a motion for a plea bargain.”
Cllr. Gongba quoted Mezzeh as saying, “This is purely intended to cut this mitigation short of not wasting the court’s time,” adding, “it is the humble prayer of codefendant Mezzeh that this request will be granted unto him as a matter of law.”
As for Ricks’ lawyer, Attorney Jallah G. Zumon, reading his client’s confession he told the court that: “Defendant Ricks requests the court to enter into a plea bargaining with Liberia, which bargaining will be presented to this court for it perusal and if need be for it consideration.”
After their respective confessions yesterday, the lead prosecutor and County Attorney for Montserrado County, Cllr. Daku Mulbah, in separate responses, interposed no objection to the codefendants’ requests for plea bargains.
But while responding to Mezzeh’s request, Cllr. Mulbah clarified that the exercise was the constitutional and statutory right of the codefendant.
In Ricks’ case, Cllr. Mulbah said, “Codefendant Ricks’ submission to enter into a plea bargaining agreement suggests that said codefendant confesses judgment to the crimes of which he is charged and indicted.”
Immediately after the prosecutor accepted the pair’s requests, Judge Paye granted the request.
A plea bargaining is a process whereby a criminal defendant and prosecutor reach a mutually satisfactory disposition of a criminal case, subject to the court’s approval.