Defendant James Cooper, the businessman whom Bomi County Senator Sando Johnson accused of misapplying a loan in the tune of US$1 million he secured from the World Bank through the International Finance Company to stimulate the rubber industry, was yesterday declared guilty of terroristic threat against Johnson.
Besides the terroristic threat, the Monrovia City Court also found Cooper guilty of two other charges of criminal malevolence and menacing.
Shortly after Magistrate Kennedy Peabody’s ruling, the defendant’s lawyers appealed before Criminal Court “A” at the Temple of Justice.
Delivering his judgment, Peabody said Senator Johnson produced sufficient evidence to conclude that Johnson’s reputation was injured and that Cooper’s action undermined his official status as a Senator.
“Cooper maintained a false version of the occurrence when he said that he spoke figuratively,” the court said.
“It is certainly warranted to conclude that defendant Cooper acted in the belief that he would put fear in Senator Johnson and injure his reputation, thereby undermining his official status,” according to the ruling.
Magistrate Peabody mandated that defendant Cooper be incarcerated at the Monrovia Central Prison for a period of one year, which did not happen yesterday due to Cooper’s lawyers appeal against the judgment.
The case grew in July this year when Senator Johnson accused defendant Cooper, after he appeared on a local radio talk show claiming that the defendant sent a text message to him, because Cooper was allegedly angry that Johnson had used the radio show to call for an investigation which could cause Cooper not to get additional loan from the World Bank.
Senator Johnson quoted Cooper’s text message as saying, “Sando Johnson is a fraud and ineffective and I will deal with him.”
In counter-argument, defendant Cooper admitted that he sent the text message, but it did not constitute any threat at all. Rather, the content of the message was a figurative expression.
Initially, Senator Johnson claimed that he negotiated with the World Bank through the International Finance Company for the US$1 million loan to stimulate the rubber industry.
The money, Johnson claimed, Cooper and others mismanaged and that they were about to secure another loan in the amount of US$7 million from the bank, something which necessitated his action to appear on a local radio show, with the intent of exposing Cooper and the others who handled the US$1 million.