By R Joyclyn Wea
At long last, Criminal Court ‘C’ has sentenced former Defense Minister Brownie Samukai and his two deputies recently guilty of stealing the Armed Forces of Liberia’s pension and welfare funds with condition.
This is pursuant to an indictment charging the defendants, J. Brownie Samukai, Jr., Joseph P. Johnson and James Nyumah Dorkor for various crimes, the Court on March 24, 2020, following a regular trial, adjudged all the three (3) defendants guilty of the crimes of Misused of Public Money, a felony of the first degree, Theft of Property for over a million USD, a felony of the second degree, and Criminal Conspiracy.
They were ordered to restitute the amount of USD 687,656.35 to the AFL pension and saving account and USD$460,000.00 to the Government of Liberia account, amounting to the total of USD1, 147,656.35.
During the sentencing of the three ex-officials Thursday, April 23, 2020, J. Brownie Samukai and Joseph Johnson were sentenced for two years each; while James Nyumah Dorbor was sentenced for six months considering his health history and his role in the crime.
Said sentence could be suspended or wave provided the defendants elect or are able to restitute monies or substantial amount of the judgment within the course of six months and balance stipulated to be restituted within twelve months as of the date of the ruling, they shall serve the full sentence should they fail to restitute within the time frame stipulated in this judgment.
Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay’s judgment follows a fifteen day pre- sentence investigation in obedience to chapter 31, section 31.5 of the criminal procedure law of Liberia.
The synopsis of which indicates that it found no previous criminal record against any of the defendants, but concluded that the crimes as charged and proven by the state post a national security threat to the nation, considering that the money, subject of the crimes, is for men and women of the armed Forces of Liberia.
Under Chapter 50.5 and Chapter 15, Section 15.4 of the Penal Law, Misused 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 50,000.00 is a second degree felony with a maximum prison of five (5) years respectively.
The minimum term of imprisonment not being stated, it is presumably left within the sound discretion of the trial court, giving due consideration to the fact and circumstances of the commission of the crimes and the defendants previous records.
Base upon this, the judge in his wisdom sees it fixed to sentence the defendants for two years and six months respectively base on the fact that the defendants have no previous criminal records.