Paralegal to decide on plea bargain or trial

2014-06-24 09:29


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Cape Town - A former paralegal conveyancing secretary who agreed to a prison sentence on charges of theft, fraud and money laundering will appear in the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crime Court in Cape Town on Tuesday.

In her previous appearance, Marie Johanna Christina Rodney, 59, had asked for a postponement after she changed her mind.

She wished to reconsider whether to plead guilty and face prison in plea bargain proceedings, or to plead not guilty, and go on trial in the normal manner.

Plea bargain proceedings last about 30 minutes, as opposed to formal trial proceedings which can take weeks to finalise.

She was expected to indicate whether she still agrees to the agreed prison sentence, or wishes to go on trial in the normal manner, and leave it to the court to decide the sentence, if convicted.

Rodney was a paralegal conveyancer with attorney firm Patel and Totos, which specialises in conveyancing and liquidations.

As conveyancing secretary, she had authority to receive funds from clients, and to make payments where due.

On five counts of theft, prosecutor Denzyl Combrink alleges that she diverted money paid by clients into her own bank account, instead of paying into the firm's bank account.

On 22 counts of fraud, she is alleged to have inserted false bank details on payments to be made to clients.

She also faces 22 counts of money laundering and six of forgery.

A total sum of R322 277 is involved.

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