Recruiter says immigration status defendant ‘brainwashed us’

Witness tells of conversation with McKeeva Bush

A woman who recruited people to pay $2,000 for status told the judge and jury on Tuesday that defendant Paul Anthony Hume Ebanks had “brainwashed” her and two other women into believing that everything about the scheme had to go through him because he was “their right-hand man.”

Earldine O. Gordon said she was told by her good friend Siri Russell in mid-2012 that government was looking for prominent people worthy of Cayman Islands status. She said she was told the people behind the scheme were McKeeva Bush, who was premier at the time, and MLA Cline Glidden. She added that at times Deputy Governor Franz Manderson’s name was mentioned also.

Ms. Russell said she believed the scheme of granting status or permanent residence was legitimate because something similar was done in the past. She was happy to be involved because she knew people who were deserving of status and when the grants were made the first time, “a lot of people got it that wasn’t deserving of it.”

When people did not get status and did not get their money back, the women wanted to meet with Mr. Bush to find out the situation. It was then that Ebanks said that everything had to go through him.

Ebanks has pleaded not guilty to 28 charges that include obtaining cash by falsely representing that it was required as payment for legitimate grant of Caymanian status.

Ebanks has pleaded not guilty to 28 charges that include obtaining cash by falsely representing that it was required as payment for legitimate grant of Caymanian status.

Ms. Gordon told of an occasion when Ebanks said Mr. Bush had agreed to meet one of the three women and Ms. Gordon said she was the one who was going. As they drove on West Bay Road toward Mr. Bush’s house on a Saturday afternoon, Ebanks said to her, “Oh (expletive), see Mr. Bush going there?”

She said she turned around to check the vehicle that had crossed them going toward town; it looked like a black SUV, but she could not see who was in it. She said Ebanks got on the phone right away. She heard him say they had an appointment to meet and were on their way. He then told her that Mr. Bush had been called to “come into the station,” but he wouldn’t be long so they should wait.

They drove to West Bay and parked and waited several hours, but the meeting never took place.

Ms. Gordon said while they waited, Ebanks told her “he wasn’t going to prison for them this time.”

Asked who “them” was, Ms. Russell replied, “McKeeva and his posse,” which she understood to be the government at the time.

Asked why Ebanks said he went to prison for them, she said she did not recall, but she remembered he said he did time for them and covered up for them.

The jury has already heard that Ebanks has previous convictions for offenses involving a status scam.

On another occasion, Ebanks told her a meeting with Mr. Bush had been set up, but then it had to be canceled because Mr. Bush had to go to a funeral.

He did not use a speakerphone when he said he was speaking with Mr. Bush, so she only knew what she heard Ebanks say and what he reported of the conversation afterward.

Ms. Gordon said she did speak to Mr. Bush on the phone once. She explained that she, Ms. Russell and Margaret McLaughlin (the third woman who recruited people to take advantage of the scheme) took a letter to Mr. Bush’s house, setting out their concerns about the scheme.

She said they included their phone numbers and Mr. Bush called Ms. Russell, whose number was first. She said Ms. Russell made a sign that Mr. Bush was upset and she hung up. Ms. Gordon called Mr. Bush back by redialing.

She said Mr. Bush was very upset and he said he did not know what the women were talking about. He said they would hear from his lawyer, but they never did.