A trial expected to last two months has been set to start on Jan. 14, 2019, for six immigration personnel and five other defendants on charges relating to the provision of assistance to pass a required English Language Test, and arrangement of payment of a reward for providing such assistance.

Ten defendants appeared in Grand Court before Justice Michael Wood on Friday, along with co-defendant Mariel Maleno Suriel, a Dominican woman residing in George Town. Ms. Suriel, 33, pled guilty to four counts of conspiracy to commit fraud on the government.

Everyone else pleaded not guilty to all charges against them, including the people Ms. Suriel is accused of conspiring with. Immigration official Pheadra McDonald was off-island for medical reasons, but attorney Prathna Bodden indicated she would be pleading not guilty.

Justice Wood noted that the five civilian defendants who pleaded not guilty required the assistance of an interpreter of the Spanish language. They are from Honduras or Dominican Republic. With the involvement of interpreters and the number of defense attorneys, the judge estimated the trial could last eight weeks. He said a visiting judge would preside.

With Court 5 in Kirk House able to be rearranged to accommodate 11 defendants and their attorneys, the judge confirmed that only one trial would be necessary.

Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Patrick Moran said the Crown was keen to have the trial this year, but the defense attorneys had scheduling conflicts. The first clear dates were in January, so the judge set Monday, Jan. 14, for the trial to start.

The judge also noted that there would have to be an “enormous” number of potential jurors available. Each defendant is allowed five challenges during the jury selection process; the Crown also has five challenges relating to each defendant. With 11 defendants, there could potentially be 110 challenges. Justice Wood asked that the jury bailiff be warned about the number of jurors who will have to be summoned.

A case management conference was set for June 22 so that the Crown could know which witnesses will be required by defendants.

The six serving Immigration Department staff members have been placed on required leave – suspension with pay – following their 2017 arrests. Their alleged offenses relate to dates or periods between April 19, 2015 and Jan. 11, 2017.

Marcus Alexander, 43, is charged with 12 counts of conspiracy to commit fraud on the government, four counts of conspiracy to commit breach of trust, three counts of breach of trust and one count of failing to report the solicitation of an advantage.

Carlos Robinson, 43, is charged with eight counts of conspiracy to commit fraud on the government and one count of failing to report the solicitation of an advantage.

Kathy-Ann Forbes, 44, is charged with four counts of conspiracy to commit fraud on the government, one count of conspiracy to commit a breach of trust, and one count of failing to report the solicitation of an advantage.

Pheadra McDonald, 43, is charged with four counts of conspiracy to commit fraud on the government and one count of failing to report the solicitation of a reward.

Diane Dey-Rankin, 57, is charged with three counts of conspiracy to commit fraud on the government and one count of failing to report the solicitation of an advantage.

Sherry Lee McLaughlin, 57, faces three counts of conspiracy to commit breach of trust and one count of failing to report the solicitation of an advantage.

Five civilian defendants pleaded not guilty.

Katerine Montero Paniagua, 27, faces two counts of conspiracy to commit fraud on the government.

Carolin Nixon-Lopez, 35, is charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit fraud on the government.

Marlenis Perez Mata, 31, is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit fraud on the government and three counts of conspiracy to commit a breach of trust.

Angela Suyapa Rodriguez David, 38, is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit fraud on the government.

Santo Castro Castillo, 45, is charged with 11 counts of conspiracy to commit fraud on the government and three counts of conspiracy to commit a breach of trust.

All charges were brought under the Anti-Corruption Law, 2014 revision. The English test is administered to all non-Caymanian workers who hail from countries where English is not the primary language.

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