The US$378,490 criminal proceedings that involve several individuals including Maria Morgan Luyken, the chief executive officer of the popular Destiny Entertainment Center, took a dramatic turn on Tuesday, August 31, when state lawyers questioned the moral integrity of one of the defense lawyers, Counselor Jura Lynch in the case.
Counselor Bobby Livingstone, in his application to Criminal Court 'C' accused his colleague, Cllr. Lynch of playing a major role as a lawyer in the creation of what he described as a “criminal enterprise” named ‘Cycle of Life Fellowship.’
Cllr. Livingstone further claimed that Cllr. Lynch’s signatures appeared on most of the documents that led to the establishment of Cycle of Life Fellowship, a private saving club, an entity the co-defendant, Luyken and her collaborators, used to dupe several victims including the private prosecutor, Madela Zayzay, of US$378,490.
Livingstone argued that Lynch’s signature on the documents, clearly established that he is conflicted and compromised, which by law is a serious ethical transgression that warrants his disqualification as a defense lawyer in the case.
Cllr. Livingstone did not recommend harsher punishment against his colleague, Cllr. Lynch, after the submission, although Livingstone knows that such accusation if it were to be proven during an investigation by the Supreme Court's Grievance and Ethics Committee (GEC), may lead to the suspension or disbarment of a lawyer from the practice of law in the country. Since, Cllr. Livingstone’s contention against Cllr. Lynch was very serious and Lynch, himself, was absent from the hearing, Judge Ousmane Feika decided to place a temporary hold on the discussion.
But to show transparency in the process, Judge Feika decided to use his personal phone to publicly place a phone call to Cllr. Lynch probably to have him informed about the accusation against Lynch. That exercise did not materialize yesterday because of Cllr. Lynch’s phone rang endlessly without any response.
The consistent refusal of Cllr. Lynch to pick the judge’s call may have led to Judge Feika imposing a US$100 fine on the lawyer, which is expected to be paid within twenty-four hours, according to Judge Feika. After imposing the fine on Lynch, Judge Feika explained that, during the morning session of the case, Cllr. Lynch and the other lawyers (both prosecutors and defense) were in full attendance. After the hearing, they were advised to return for the evening session of the matter.
Unfortunately, Cllr. Lynch did not show up for the afternoon hearing, at which time Cllr. Livingstone made the accusation against him (Cllr. Lynch.).Later, Judge Feika continued, “With the seriousness of the allegations contained in the submission by the prosecutors against Cllr. Lynch, it would be necessary to have Lynch provide his own defense.”
He added, “We observed that a notice for resumption was made to the parties to reassemble by 12 noon. Cllr. Lynch selected not to return to court, because the application is directly at his character. The court will suspend hearing on the said application until Cllr. Lynch is present to address himself to the allegation.”
Despite the accusation against Lynch, Judge Feika still proceeded with the hearing and ruling on some of the more sticky pretrial motions. Luyken, together with Reginald Taylor, Amos Benjamin, S. Bismarck Appleton, Meattia Yancy, and Ralph Johnson, were charged with theft of property and criminal conspiracy.
In the Indictment, the prosecutors claimed that between the period of October 2020, and November 2020, defendant Luyken and her cohorts, with criminal intent, tricked Zayzay and several other victims and deprived them of their US$378,490 through her Fellowship.
They further claimed that Luyken induced and influenced the victims under deceptive minds. The record alleges that “Luyken, in her deceptive mind, extorted the money and subsequently issued several receipts to her victims, including Zayzay, in the name of, ‘Cycle of Life Fellowship’,” the court records alleged. “The defendants exercised an authorized control over the victim’s cash while, at the same time, depriving them of the gainful use of their property,” the record alleged.