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Monday 24 September 2018
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Attorney tells US Supreme Court judge ‘Piper was vulnerable’

AZARD ALI

NEVILLE PIPER, 88, who was National Security Minister Edmund Dillon’s good friend from Sobo Village, La Brea, is contending in New York Supreme Court in the United States, that he gave Dillon a power of attorney, but not a gift of his condominium, located at 301 Cathedral Parkway, Uptown Manhattan.

According to several court documents filed in the US, the ailing Piper told a court appointed evaluator that the signature in a deed of transfer to Dillon of 50 per cent interest share in his condominium, is not his. Additionally, Piper is further contending that he never gave Dillon a power to conduct banking transaction on his behalf. Dillon, a cabinet minister in the ruling People’s National Movement government, is caught in a web of financial dealings in the US involving long-time Sobo village friend Piper, returning recently to the US Supreme court to defend the matter in which the minister is being accused of financial abuse, elderly exploitation and fraud.

Online blogs circulated yesterday that a decision was made against Dillon in the matter but this proved to be incorrect. Dillon has admitted that the next hearing of the mater is April 2 and he will be returning to the US to defend the matter. Opposition members of Parliament have been calling for Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowly to fire him, but the minister has maintained that Piper, whom he knew for 45 years, gifted the property, including bank accounts, to him way back in 2014.

Piper’s neice, Esther Nicholls is the petitioner and has filed the case against Dillon on Piper’s behalf as an Alleged Incapacitated Person (AIP). However, court documents revealed that she is not fit to be guardian and as a result, Reginald Ashedu is named as Piper’s temporary guardian. The AIP lawsuit engaging the court has seen the judge appointing a court evaluator to probe the veracity of the parties making the allegations against Dillon who is a minister in the ruling People’s National Movement government.

Attorney Patricia Powis investigated and compiled a report for the court, in which she began with outlining the attempt by Nicholls in 2017, to locate Piper. He was found convalescing at the New Jewish hospital in Manhattan. Attorney Powis deposed that Nicholls provided her with copies of documents in her possession, some of which were cancelled cheques which showed transactions made on Piper’s behalf - July 24, 2017 payment of US$646.88; August 25, 2017 payment of US$952.55 for back taxes on his Florida property.

Powis stated for the court that Nicholls understood she had a history of bankruptcy and was not an appropriate guardian for appointment as Piper property. Nicholls, the attorney wrote, is willing to act as personal needs guardian for Piper. Powis wrote in her report for the court that she visited Piper in September and November 2017 and he was aware of the court proceedings and for a guardian to take over management of his finances and property. In fact, the attorney stated in her report, Piper was aware that he would have to attend court.

Powis stated that when she interviewed Piper, he had no recollection of having given an interest in his apartment to Dillon. She stated, “He (Piper) seem surprised that one would think he would do so such a thing. He noted that “having worked so hard for my home, why would I give some of it away when I am still here.”

Powis’ statement forms part of the bundle of documents filed by Nicholls who is the petitioner named in the lawsuit and also filed by Ashedu as interim temporary guardian for Piper. She stated that during her visit, Piper had a copy of his Deed in his possession and showed her the page with his ‘signature’. But next to it he wrote “who is this?”. And Piper, she said, explained to her that he wrote those words because he did not recognise the signature on the Deed. He told her that it was not his signature. Powis stated that the ailing Piper commented, “When you are low people come out of the cracks and jump right on in to get some of yours.”

About Piper whom Dillon claim to have known for 45 years and was a friend of the family in La Brea, Powis wrote that Piper appears to someone be very vulnerable and likely to continue to suffer loss if a guardian was not appointed for him. The attorney pointed out that despite Piper’s pleasant demeanour and social skills, he was unable to do more than speak in “generalised terms”. Piper was a man who demonstrated short-term memory loss, being unable to recall a visit from his counsel the day before. The attorney wrote, “His inability to recall specific persons and events made him vulnerable and likely to suffer loss if a guardian is not appointed.”

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