Western Governor sentenced to 10 years

The National Court at Waigani has sentenced Western Governor Ati Wobiro, former Western Provincial Administrator Dr Modowa Gumoi, and Fly Care Foundation Inc. boss Norman Carl May to 10 years in prison.

Justice Martin Ipang delivered the sentence just before 3pm today.

The three were convicted on July 26 for misappropriating over K7m. They were also found guilty for conspiring to defraud the state of K7,060,000.

For misappropriating K7,060,000, Justice Ipang sentenced them to 25 years in prison. However, due to restitution of K373,971.68 being paid, the court suspended 15 years, leaving them to serve a remaining term of 10 years.

For their part in conspiring to defraud the state of K7,060,000, they were sentenced to 4 years.

Both imprisonment terms will be served concurrently, meaning they will now serve a total of 10 years.

The court ordered their respective bail monies of K10,000 to be refunded.

The three were found guilty on July 26 for conspiring to establish the Fly Care Foundation between January 1 and December 30, 2013, by using over more than K7m funding from the provincial government.

They conspired to misappropriate funds through a memorandum of agreement between Governor Wobiro and May, for the Foundation to deliver projects in the province.

Justice Ipang, in his ruling on July 26, said there was overwhelming evidence that Wobiro paid K350,000 to New Century hotel as  a cover up for informal sector projects, when it was actually intended for his electoral officials who led his campaign in the 2012 General Elections.

It was also found that he paid out monies for various church projects in the province without following proper processes. No acquittals were done on the funds given out.

Justice Ipang further found that despite some programs completed by Fly Care Foundation Inc, no proper reports were given or made to the court.

Lawyers for the three newly-convicted prisoners indicated they will file a Supreme Court appeal and bail application on Monday.

The trio will now be taken to Bomana Prison.

Sally Pokiton