A Cayman Islands Grand Court judge ordered a verdict of not guilty Tuesday against Canover Watson’s former personal assistant on a charge of transferring criminal property. The order came after submissions by Miriam Rodriguez’s attorney that she had no case to answer from the prosecution in the CarePay trial.
Ms. Rodriguez, 54, whose name came up only a few times during the trial, which has been under way for several weeks, is now free to go and is no longer required to attend court proceedings. The no case submission was made after the prosecution completed its case on Monday.
Shortly after the judge announced his decision, Watson embraced Ms. Rodriguez, who shed a few tears and later told the Cayman Compass she was “not surprised” by the verdict. She declined to make a further statement by press time Tuesday and went back to observe the trial proceedings.
Judge Michael Mettyear informed jurors Tuesday that he did not believe a properly directed jury could possibly have returned a guilty verdict against Ms. Rodriguez. Justice Mettyear said that while some of her behavior might have been considered suspicious, there was no evidence presented that indicated she benefited personally from the award of the CarePay patient swipe-card contract to AIS Cayman Ltd. in December 2010.
According to testimony in the trial, Ms. Rodriguez’s role in the CarePay scheme was that she handled checks totaling at least $1.5 million and cash totaling $55,000 while working at the offices of the former Admiral Administration firm, of which Watson was the global managing director. The Crown has alleged the amounts to be illicit proceeds from the contract award earned when Watson and Jeffrey Webb pursued a course of action that defrauded the government.
Jurors heard last week that three checks brought to Admiral by Cayman Islands Health Services Authority employees were signed for by Ms. Rodriguez between August 2011 and May 2012. In addition, two cash envelopes the Crown said consisted of profits from the CarePay contract were alleged to have been handled by her at different points during 2011.
A statement Ms. Rodriguez made to police in 2014 indicated that she was instructed by Webb, not Watson, to sign for the checks and pass them on, either to Webb himself or to a woman who Ms. Rodriguez said she assumed worked at AIS Cayman. Ms. Rodriguez’s statement – which was read at trial along with the transcript of her police interview – indicated she did this as a favor to Webb, whom she had known for years, and that Watson had generally instructed her to assist Webb with business matters that arose from time to time.
Written answers to police questions provided by Watson, which were also read at trial Friday, gave a similar account. Mr. Mettyear said he agreed with Ms. Rodriguez’s attorney, Laurence Aiolfi, that a jury could not have concluded that she knew the money passing through her hands at the time might have consisted of criminal property.
“It’s my job to tell you [referring to the jury] to find her not guilty,” Justice Mettyear said, after which the jury foreman rose and formally pronounced the verdict. Mr. Aiolfi confirmed that the judge’s decision essentially meant the Crown had not proved its case against Ms. Rodriguez. He declined to make further comments on Tuesday.
The CarePay trial continued Tuesday with the defense opening its case. Watson faces six charges in a Grand Court indictment issued in November.