Woman fined for ‘permits of convenience’

Domestic worker’s employer left island in 1999

A woman who came to Grand Cayman as a domestic worker in 1996 will be leaving this year after pleading guilty to six charges of making a false representation for a work permit.

Veronica Johnson, 52, whose employer moved to the U.K. in 1999, was fined $125 for each offense, for a total of $750.

Defense attorney Richard Barton had urged the court to impose fines on the basis that the offenses were not so serious as to require a custodial sentence and it was unnecessary to burden the country with the costs of keeping her in prison. He described his client as destitute, saying she was willing to liquidate her savings to pay fines.

The background to the charges was presented on Wednesday by crown counsel Alexander Upton. He told Magistrate Grace Donalds that immigration officers received information that Johnson was working on a “permit of convenience.”

They investigated and found that Johnson’s employer had departed Cayman in 1999; she came back in 2010 and made two short visits but is still resident in the U.K. Neither Johnson nor her employer ever cancelled the work permit.

Johnson was asked to attend the Immigration Department Enforcement section to respond to allegations.

She said she was aware of her employer going to the U.K. to further her education; she was to return, but decided to stay.

Further, she said her employer’s sister took care of permit applications from 2002 to 2007. Johnson said all permit applications were given to the sister and when she received them back, they were signed by the employer.

Mr. Alexander said Johnson was off island 2010-2011 for rollover. During that time, she had conversations with her employer. In August 2011, a work permit was granted as a domestic helper and Johnson returned to Cayman.

Investigations showed that all permits applications appeared to have been signed by the employer and paperwork was given to a third party. The applications were then submitted and approved.

Charges against Johnson related to typed letters in support of her work permit applications in 2006, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013. Details are that she caused a statement or representation to be made which she knew to be false or which she did not believe to be true.

After her guilty pleas, charges of possessing an irregular document (the work permits obtained by false representation) were not proceeded with.

Mr. Barton said Johnson acknowledged her wrongdoing, but had not appreciated the sensitivity of the charges. He cited her contributions to the community through her church – working on food drives, mentoring programs, and financial giving from her meager earnings.

As a result of these convictions, she will lose her good character, which in turn will affect the likelihood of further employment locally, Mr. Barton added.

He asked that Johnson be give one month to pay the fines and the magistrate agreed.

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