Unemployed woman fined for selling lottery tickets

A woman on work permit told police she sold lottery tickets because she has a child and was unemployed.

Janice Chelena Johnson, 37, pleaded guilty in Summary Court on Tuesday and agreed with the summary of facts presented by Crown counsel Candia James. She was fined $150.

Johnson told Magistrate Valdis Foldats that her permit as a baby sitter expired in February. She was in Cayman trying to support three children in Jamaica. She had no previous convictions.

Details of the charge against her were that she sold lottery tickets to members of the public at Bob and Amy’s Grocery Store on Dec. 4, 2013.

Ms. James said police were conducting an investigation into a report of illegal gambling in the Eastern Avenue area of George Town. Undercover officers went to the area to purchase tickets. Johnson was subsequently arrested as one of several people involved. She told officers she had been asked by someone else to sell and she agreed.

In court, she wondered why the person who asked her hadn’t been charged. The magistrate told her he was not in charge of the police. [Other women have been charged as a result of this operation, but they are coming to court on a different date.]

Johnson accepted that what she had done was illegal.

The magistrate told her the offense was serious and jail was a possible sentence. Because of her guilty plea and cooperation he was able to reduce the sentence, he explained. He also took into account her financial circumstances and imposed a fine of $150, with a term of 15 days if the fine is not paid.

Johnson asked for two weeks to pay and the magistrate gave her until Sept. 5.

Cayman’s Gambling Law, in effect since 1963, was revised in 1996 to convert financial penalties from pounds to CI dollars. The maximum penalty for selling lottery tickets is now a fine of $400 or imprisonment for 12 months.