Mother of 5 gets 36 years for defrauding loan agency

KINGSTON, Jamaica — A mother of five was sentenced to 36 years in prison on Tuesday after pleading guilty to charges of conspiring to defraud a loan agency of approximately $12 million, between December 2020 and September 2021.

Dubbed the mastermind of the scheme, Kadian Russell was sentenced to 18 months hard labor on four counts of disseminating false documents, two years in prison on 14 counts of obtaining credit by fraud, one year imprisonment for forgery and one year imprisonment for conspiracy to defraud.

She was also charged with four other accomplices, however, they will be sentenced at a later date.

Senior Kingston Parish and St Andrew Parish Court Judge Lori-Ann Cole-Montague, while handing down the sentence, revealed that Russell would only serve three years as a number of sentences are to be served simultaneously.

Russell and his co-defendant were able to secure a combined $12.5 million in loans from the agency.

Additionally, investigations had revealed that Russell, who received a total of $8 million as a result of the scheme, only repaid a total of $1.2 million.

However, as she stood before the judge, before she could be sentenced, the court heard that Russell was once again caught up in another conspiracy to defraud. This time, it was about collecting money for the rent of an apartment she didn’t own.

According to court documents, as Marcia Thompson, Russell was able to rack up a total of $340,000 for the two cases when the plaintiffs paid the money to rent the apartment. It happened in March.

These new charges resulted in Russell’s bail being canceled and she was escorted to court in handcuffs. Russell also pleaded guilty to the new charges of obtaining money under false pretenses and conspiracy to defraud.

Unable to hide his shock that Russell would commit another crime of the same nature while out on bail, Cole-Montague said: ‘Miss Russell, you heard my shock just now, because you were in released on bail and awaiting sentencing. Are you trying to push my hand to send you straight to jail? You are doing a fantastic job in this area, if this is your goal you are working towards, hats off to you… do you see a bed in South Camp [Adult Correctional Centre] which pleases you?”

In response, Russell told the judge that she was unaware that the apartment was not “legal”.

“I have a friend, she was the one who asked me to help her because she told me that the apartment belonged to her family and I helped her by collecting the funds. Then I found out the apartment wasn’t really for her,” Russell added, saying she also helped police arrest her friend, but was later released.

Russell went on to explain: “She was arrested, I don’t know what happened between her and the police as they found the evidence there [at her house], I was surprised that she was released. I acknowledged what I did, but at the end of the day, I won’t take responsibility for any of it, because all the blame wasn’t on me alone.

But the prosecution told a different story. It was revealed that Russell was the one who arranged meetings with the plaintiffs to view the apartment and that she was the only one who collected the money. The other woman was only asked by Russell to help advertise the apartment, the police investigation confirmed.

“You’re out on bail on serious business and it would be expected that if you’re out on bail knowing that a possible sentence is hanging over your head, you’d be very careful how you order the spaces , does that seem reasonable?” said Cole-Montague.

“I tell people, I’m a judge, I don’t sugarcoat things for anybody because I don’t work in a bakery. It is very difficult, even after weighing what you say, to be sympathetic to you. No wonder the attorney isn’t in the new case,” the judge continued, confirming that Russell’s attorney, Hopteon Marshall, is not representing her in the new cases.

Prior to sentencing, Marshall struggled to seek clemency for his client. Acknowledging his actions, he pleaded for clemency for the sake of his children, aged 1 to 12.

Russell, who also previously had a robbery conviction, is due back in court on July 11 for sentencing on the other cases.

Bernadine J. Perkins