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2005-05-10 14:21:02

Woman Charged With Stealing From Tour Company

A Miller's Heights woman was charged in a magistrate's court on Monday with 157 counts of stealing by reason of employment.

Michelle Shepherd, 30, of Miller's Heights, was led away from court on Monday after being charged with stealing more than $100,000 from Majestic Tours.

The woman allegedly stole the money from Majestic Tours on Cumberland Street.

It is alleged that Michelle Shepherd, 30, was pinching funds from the company from between March 31, 1999 to April 2003.

It is alleged that she stole over $112,000.

The accused was not required to enter a plea and was remanded to Her Majesty's Prison until her bail hearing, which was set for May 19.

During the arraignment, Magistrate Virgill explained to Shepherd that ordinarily a suspect in such a case would have been able to select whether he or she wants the case tried in a magistrate's court or the Supreme Court.

But she explained that the Attorney General's office had asked her to bypass this because of the nature of the case.

Police prosecutor, Inspector Ercell Dorsette, vehemently opposed bail, pointing out that the large number of counts on which Shepherd was charged should be taken into consideration.

He explained that the amount of money stolen was too large to allow the accused to be released and said that if bail were to be granted it should reflect the amount that was stolen.

Magistrate Virgill asked the accused why she should be granted bail even though the prosecutor did not think that it was a good idea.

Shepherd said she should be allowed bail because she was not aware that she would have been charged with so many counts.

According to Shepherd, the Criminal Detective Unit only informed her that she was appearing in court to answer to 12 counts.

The accused said if she had known that she would have faced all those counts of stealing she would have retained an attorney for the proceedings.

She therefore asked to be granted bail so that she could seek legal counsel.

Shepherd also explained that she had been through the process before two years ago of appearing for these same charges, but she claimed they had been thrown out.

She said during that time she had an attorney and she was trying to secure the same attorney for this matter, but was unable to reach him in time.

Magistrate Virgill told her that not having an attorney was not an excuse and it was not a good enough reason to be granted bail.

The magistrate then gave the accused another opportunity to explain to the court why she should be granted bail, but the second time around the accused appeared reluctant to answer the question.

Magistrate Virgill said she would have to review the information pertaining to the charges, which Shepherd said had been thrown out, before allowing her bail.

After the magistrate ordered her to be remanded, Shepherd appeared shocked for a few seconds and then proceeded to the female police officer who was waiting to handcuff her.

Other Tiefin' Bahamians

In a similar court matter last week, a former employee of Renal House was remanded to Her Majesty's Prison for allegedly stealing almost $300,000 in cheques from that centre which cares for kidney patients, and depositing the funds into her personal bank account.

By: Bianca Symonette, The Bahama Journal

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