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Published On: Wed, May 30th, 2018

Court sentences attorney for bribery

Roseburg - Brooks - De la Rosa - 20180530 HH

PHILIPSBURG – The Court in First Instance sentenced attorney Brenda Brooks on Wednesday to a 6-month conditional prison sentence and a 10,000 guilders fine for bribing an immigration officer on July 2, 2016. The court imposed 2 years of probation. Brooks immediately appealed the verdict. The Dean of the Bar Association, Geert Hatzmann told stmaartennews.com that his board will discuss the situation and issue a reaction as soon as possible.

At the trial on May 9, the public prosecutor demanded an unconditional prison sentence of 6 months. The prosecutor also demanded a 5-year ban on a function in the supervisory board of directors of insurance company NAGICO, but the court saw no need to add this to its decision: “The defendant is no longer active as a member of the supervisory board of NAGICO. In case the defendant takes on this function again, she will, considering what is hanging over her head, think twice before committing similar actions.”

Brooks had approached an immigration officer to facilitate the smooth entry into the country of two high ranking NAGICO-employees. Based on a Whatsapp-conversation investigators found on the phone of immigration officer Jahaira Marlin the court concluded that she had offered $200 to make this happen.

The court acquitted Brooks of the charge of human smuggling. It also acquitted Brooks of inciting an immigration officer to abuse her function. Inciting has to meet five requirements and this case did not meet the fourth requirement; Brooks did bribe the immigration officer, but in the end nothing came of it, because the bribed officer – Kizzy Baptist – (who never received a penny) was not on duty when the two NAGICO-employees entered the country.

The court found Brooks guilty of bribing a civil servant by promising her $200 in the Whatsapp-conversation. “Making such promises corrupts the civil service,” the ruling states. “The defendant jeopardized the functioning of the immigration service, which has already been a source of concern for some time..”

Asking an immigration officer for preferential treatment of two people and offering money for it “is plain unacceptable,” the ruling states.

The court noted that Brooks had committed her crime because it was important for NAGICO that the two employees could enter the country. “Apparently the defendant only had the objective on her mind and she did not hesitate to use these means.”

The court held it against Brooks that she is a criminal defense attorney. “From such an attorney it may be expected that she abides by the law.”

Bribing civil servants justifies in principle an unconditional prison sentence. But the court did not want to go that far, considering that Brooks, given her position in the community, had been hit hard by media reports about her arrest and the accusations against her.

Photo caption: Attorney Brenda Brooks (center) with her attorneys Sjamira Roseburg (left) and Nerissa de la Rosa just after she filed the appeal against her conviction. Photo Hilbert Haar.

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Related articles:
Attorney claims innocence in bribery-trial
The other side of the story” by Hilbert Haar
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