Ex-Defense Minister Samukai Gets 1-Year Suspended Prison Sentence

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Defendants Johnson and Samukai (dressed in coat suits) leaving the courtroom of Criminal Court 'C'

-With conditional six months to restitute significant portion of the  US$1,147,656.35 stolen out of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) Retirement Funds

Criminal Court ‘C’ Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay on Thursday, April 23 sentenced two of the three defendants that include former Defense Minister Brownie Samukai and former deputy minister for administration Joseph P. Johnson to two years in prison each for stealing US$1,147,656.35 out of the account of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) at the Ecobank- Liberia.

The remaining co-defendant, former comptroller, James Nyumah Dorkor, received six-month jail sentence.

Meanwhile, the court suspended the prison sentence on Thursday with a condition that they would restitute significant portion of the money within the period of six-months and pay the balance within another six-months.

The AFL’s account was opened under the signatures of Co-defendant Brownie J. Samukai, Jr., former Minister of National Defense as “signatory A” and Defendant J. Nyumah Dorkor, former Comptroller of the Ministry of National Defense as “Signatory B” and Defendant Joseph P. Johnson, former Deputy Minister for Administration, Ministry of Defense also as “signatory A.”

In his sentencing ruling, Gbeisay said both co-defendants, Samukai and Johnson may likely escape their two-years prison term only if they agree to pay significant amount of that money within a period of six-months, even-though the matter is pending appeal before the Supreme Court, shortly after the defense lawyers rejected the initial guilty verdict against them by the court.

Gbeisay continued: “Samukai and Johnson are hereby sentenced to common prison for a period of two (2) years each and that the said sentence is suspended, provided they elected to restitute the whole or substantial amount of the judgment sum within six (6) months and the balance stipulated to be restituted within 12 months, as of the ruling, failure which they shall serve the full two years.”

For Dorkor, whose guilty verdict is challenged also at the Supreme Court, Gbeisay ruled that Dorkor is going to get six (6) months imprisonment due to his role in the commission of the crimes and his physical health condition.

“If Dorkor elected to reserve the right to the privacy of his health status, this court considers his physical condition and his minor role in the commission of the crimes, [he] is hereby sentenced to six (6) months imprisonment, which six months sentence is suspended, provided he restitute his share of the money in whole or in substantial part within six (6) months and file  stipulation  to pay the balance in 12 months,” adding, “failure of which he shall serve the full six(6) months in common prison and make restitution.”

Further to the sentencing, Gbeisay explained that under Chapters 50.5 and 15, and Section 15.4 of the Penal Law, among others, provides that “misuse of public money [is] a felony of the first degree with a maximum prison term of ten (10) years, while theft of property, in which the value of the property exceeds US$50,000 is a second degree felony with a maximum prison term five (5) years respectively.”

However, Gbeisay said, since the minimum prison term of imprisonment is not stated in the law for theft of property. “It [is] presumably left within the sound discretion of the trial courts, giving due consideration to the fact and circumstances of the commission of the crimes and the defendants’ previous records.”

Judge Gbeisay’s sentence resulted after the Probation Service Division at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) presented a 14-day of pre-sentencing investigation report, which established that there is no previous criminal record against any of the defendants.

Initially, Gbeisay had adjourned the three defendants guilty of the commission of the crimes that ranged from misuse of public money, theft of property and criminal conspiracy respectively.

But lawyers representing the accused rejected the sentencing a as well the guilty verdict and subsequently announced an appeal to the Supreme Court.

Earlier, the government had alleged that, of the total amount of US$1,259.462, Co-defendant Samukai with criminal mind personally authorized and co-signed along with defendant Dorkor, a check for US$852,860, withdrew, transferred and intentionally expended same basically on activities that were already provided for under the National Budget of the government, such as AFL operations.

In addition, Samukai illegally paid US$50,000 as death benefits to the families of the late General Abdurrahman, who did not contribute anything to the fund while serving AFL as Chief of Staff; that money was misapplied. In the case of Co-defendant Johnson, the document claimed, authorized and co-signed a check along with co-defendant Dorkor, and caused the withdrawal and subsequent transfer of the sum of US$406,602 from the AFL Pension Account, contrary to the intended purpose of the funds which was for supplementary pension package to personnel of the AFL.

Further, all operational funds from the AFL-pension account were authorized to be transferred into the account of the Ministry of National Defense, except the amount of US$16,000, which was paid directly to one Joseph Gegeh to be identified.

“As part of the collusion, all authorization letters directly resulting in the commission of the crime of theft of property by deception was done by Co-defendant Dorkor.

At the same time, on the 3rd day of the month of October 2017, former AFL Deputy Minister for Administration, Johnson, criminally and intentionally authorized Ecobank Liberia Limited to change the “AFL-Pension account title to AFL Morale and Welfare account” without any evidence, consultation, and administrative decision and without the consent of the AFL High Command,” the court’ document alleges.

The indictment further alleges that at diverse times during the periods of July 1, 2009, an account named and styled “AFL Pension Saving Account” at ECOBANK Liberia Limited with account number 1092-522-22-19 was opened under the signatures of Co-defendant Samukai as “signatory A” and Dorkor, as “Signatory B” while, Johnson was also “A”.

The soldiers’ salaries which were deducted between the period of July 2009 up to, and including October 2017, the totaled US$1,943,971.99, representing the combined deductions from the salaries of AFL soldiers deposited into AFL account.

The deductions were made on the basis of ranks. State prosecutors claimed that the defendants misused US$1,259,462.

The said account was based upon salaries deductions and was established to provide benefits for wounded AFL soldiers, families of dead AFL soldiers and was intended to supplement the pension package to personnel of AFL upon retirement from active service, the indictment further alleges.

Author

  • Anthony Kokoi is a young Liberian sports writer who has an ever-growing passion for the development of the game of football (soccer) and other sports. For the past few years, he has been passionately engaged in reporting the developments of the game in the country. He is an associate member of the Sports Writers Association of Liberia (SWAL). He is a promoter of young talents. He also writes match reports and makes an analysis of Liberian Football.

6 COMMENTS

  1. The ruling and the sentencing from the Court has all the makings of the mansoic brothers’ club of old Liberia. The makings of the mansoic brothers’ club have been replaced by the traditional secret native tribal society of the elites of the new landlords of Liberia. The mansoic brothers failed to dispense justice under their rule of law, while preaching their legal theory of the law that No One Is Above The Law. Now the elites of the new landlords of Liberia are following in every step of the way to the detriment of that country . They dished out the nation’s money onto themselves that makes the United States of America looks like a poor country. And they do that without fear from the new landlords. That was exactly what the mansoic brothers did, and now the elites of the new landlords are doing just the same. Unable to dispense justice on one of their own. Jail time is too good for the elites of the new landlords. Secret court room deals are made just like the mansoic brothers did. But this time it is the elites of the new landlords of Liberia making their deals through the traditional secret native tribal society. By their fruits, they are aware of each other. One society just changed hands to another society. But the games are still the same. One good Book has it like this: Trained them in such a way that they will not depart from it , and truly, the elites of the new landlords of Liberia are trained in that very manner like the mansoic brothers that they will never depart from that. So are the back door ruling and the sentencing from the court. Simply put, monkey see monkey do.

  2. OF COURSE, THESE GUYS WILL NOT GOT TO JAIL, BECAUSE CORRUPTION IS NOT A CRIME IN LIBERIA AT ALL. THE MOST CORRUPT GUYS IN LIBERIA ARE THE WELL RESPECTED AND ADMIRED HUMAN BEINGS IN LIBERIA, THAT IS THE SAD TRUE ABOUT LIBERIA ONLY FOOLS WILL THINK CORRUPTION IS A CRIME IN LIBERIA. THIS IA COUNTRY WHERE YOU HAVE SOME PEOPLE WHO VICIOUSLY KILLED THEIR OWN CITIZENS IN THE NAME OF A BRUTAL CIVIL WAR ARE NOW LIVING AT THE EXPENSE OF THE LIBERIAN TAXPAYERS, UNBELIEVABLE BUT IT IS REAL. THAT TELLS YOU A LOT ABOUT THE PEOPLE OF LIBERIA.. ABSOLUTELY NOT IN THE WESTERN WORLD. LIBERIA IS PLACE WHERE SO MANY MANY FOOLS ARE LIVING IN PARADISE ON THE DAILY BASIS. (WATCH)

  3. Gentlemen, without knowledge of sentencing guidelines for the crime they were convicted of, such rush to judgment is surely a slippery slope.
    Moreover, although the fact that EJS and GMW agreed to reallocate the money involved wasn’t a legal defense or excuse for the crime, it is a mitigating factor for a sentencing judge. I, therefore, agree with Judge Gbeisay’s decision as correct under the circumstances.

    • Of course, here is one of the new landlords of Liberia telling James Davis about guidelines knowledge in the sentencing. Did this new landlord of Liberia actually understood that the Judge of the new elites secret native tribal society suspended the prison sentence ? So what sentencing guidelines called for suspension of prison time for wrongful acts in the millions ? If the corrupt Judge was not influenced by the training he got from the mansoic brothers. The elites of the new landlords of Liberia have replaced the so-called sayin about not to forget the children of the Pioneers, with that of do not forget the new class of elites of the new landlords of Liberia, in everything they do wrong. Since 1980, the new landlords took over Liberia as original landowners, they have failed to live up to any original independent ideas of their own. But that of the corrupt draconian rules and laws of the mansoic brothers. The head of the new elites just walked away with 16 billion in local currency of the new landlords that left them in shock . Followed that with another 25 million US dollars. Mr. Moses, don’t just be proud of being one of the new landlords of Liberia since 1980 and as one or the original landowners, that is not enough. But be proud to show off your new thoughts and ideas, independent of that of the mansoic brothers’ corrupt ideas still being practiced politically in every aspect of that country’s culture and traditions. The Judge was influenced by corrupt practices based on long time ago.

  4. James Davis,

    Obviously, you have more serious issues vis-a-vis Liberia than Judge Gbeisey’s decision. By the way, no group of people have even been “landlords” (whatever that means here) of our country.

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