FORMER public administration minister Marlene McDonald was yesterday granted $2 million bail after being fired from her post by the Prime Minster on Sunday night.
McDonald, who is also Port of Spain South MP and a PNM deputy political leader, was granted bail in absentia by Chief Magistrate Maria Busby Earle-Caddle in the Eighth Port of Spain Magistrates Court. When the hearing began around 3.40 pm, McDonald was not present. Her attorney Pamela Elder SC told the court that McDonald was not in the best of health and was warded earlier in the day at the St Clair Medical Centre.
Elder said McDonald was set to secure bail on Sunday but that did not happen.
Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard told the court he was not aware of those circumstances and promised an investigation would be done. He said he had no objection to McDonald being granted bail.
Elder said McDonald had been an elected MP since 2007 and, until recently, was a cabinet minister. She added that McDonald had an "unblemished character." A total of seven charges were laid against McDonald. These included two for conspiracy to defraud, four for alleged misbehaviour in public and one for money laundering.
McDonald was charged jointly with her common law husband Michael Carew and Victor McEachrane of allegedly attempting to defraud the Government by procuring funds for the Calabar Foundation which was identified as charity group. In one case, the group was allegedly trying to obtain funds in August 2010 to host youth events in Point Fortin and Chatham.
Also being granted bail were Carew ($500,000); former National Commission for Self Help Ltd Edgar Zephyrine ($1 million); Victor McEachrane ($400,000) and Wayne Anthony ($100,000).
This equates to a total sum of $4 million in bail for McDonald, Carew, Zephyrine, McEachrane and Anthony.
Zephyrine was charged with 28 offences and Carew was charged with eight offences. McEachrane is facing five charges while Anthony has one charge.
All of the charges were laid indictably and none of the defendants were called upon to plead.
In arguing for Carew's bail, Elder said he was 74 years old, a gospel minister and had an unblemished character. She added that Carew had been in police custody since August 8.
Before approving Elder's request for bail for Carew, Earle-Caddle rejected a person advanced as a possible bailor after he could not say what the date was.
Anthony's attorney, Frank Peterson, said his client was 66 years old, a cancer survivor, a person of good character and had no previous convictions.
McEachrane, his lawyer Kenyon Murray said, was not a flight risk. Murray told the court that McEachrane suffered from hypertension and a swollen prostate.
Zephryine's attorney, Ian Brooks, asked that Zephyrine's wife stand his bail. Brooks said she was employed at the Finance Ministry. Earle-Caddle accepted Gaspard's arguments on that point before approving Zephyrine's bail.
Up to press time, McDonald remained warded at St Clair Medical Centre. It is unclear as to whether she was able to access bail yesterday.
McEachrane was the only one of the four defendants in court who was able to process bail before court closed at 4 pm. Carew, Anthony and Zephryine remained in police custody last night. The matter was adjourned to September 9.