Ex FG Cllr Fred Forsey jnr sentenced to six years in jail for pocketing €80k in bribes
Published 27/06/2012 | 13:09
EX- Fine Gael councillor Fred Forsey has been jailed for four years for pocketing bribes of €80,000 from a millionaire property developer.
Judge Gerard Griffin handed down a six year sentence with the final two years suspended to Forsey who was convicted of receiving corrupt payments in 2006.
In sentencing Judge Griffin blasted Forsey for "gravely" breaching the trust of the Dungarvan electorate. He praised the "civic mindedness" of Jenny Forsey, who gave evidence of her ex-husband.
He said there had been a "virulent attack" on her in the witness box.
Taking into account that Forsey "attempted to cover his tracks" by backdating a loan agreement, Judge Griffin said his crime was on the "upper to mid range" of the corruption scale.
He also said that the actions were at the "height of the Celtic Tiger" at a time when property prices were at an "all time high".
The judge said if the development had proceeded outside of Dungarvan, he had "no doubt" the industrial park would be "vacant" and the "so-called 40 executive houses would be yet another ghost estate".
Last month Fred Forsey Jnr (43) sobbed uncontrollably as the jury replied "guilty" to all six counts of receiving corrupt payments from a developer in 2006 while he was a Dungarvan town councillor.
Forsey, of Coolagh Road, Abbeyside, Dungarvan, Co Waterford, had denied taking the funds as an "inducement" to support a rezoning of farmland outside of the town.
His trial at Waterford Circuit Court heard how he has not paid a cent back of the €80,000 he received from the developer.
His girlfriend Karen Morrissey (26) was by his side throughout the trial.
The trial heard rezoning of the land to industrial/residential meant its value stood to increase up to ten-fold.
Government TD John Deasy (FG) gave evidence that it was his view that the aim was to "inflate" the price of land -- and not to create jobs for Dungarvan.
The jury of eight men and four women disagreed with Forsey's claims that the monies were lent to him by a developer -- and found they were corruptly received. Their verdict was unanimous and came after two-and-a-half hours of deliberation.
Over eight days, the trial heard of a "sordid tale" of sex, lies and corruption. Personal details of Forsey's love affair with a woman 17 years his junior came out in court.
His ex-wife Ms Forsey testified against him, stating she was "furious" when he sent a text message to their then 15-year-old daughter Amy, which was intended for his girlfriend Ms Morrissey.
However, she denied she went to gardai to report her ex-husband over the payments out of "revenge".
The jury heard evidence of how Forsey met the developer, whom he only knew to salute, in The Moorings pub in Dungarvan in the summer of 2006.
They had a brief conversation and during the walk home from the pub, Ms Forsey said she asked her husband what they had discussed.
She told the court Forsey said he wanted to "get in with" the developer but she wasn't sure what he meant.
On August 22, 2006, she said her then husband told her the developer had lodged €30,000 into his bank account. However, it later emerged that he had been given €60,000.
He surprised Ms Forsey and his children with a no-expenses spared trip to Rome.
Shortly after they returned, the marriage broke down as Forsey had been having a secret relationship with Ms Morrissey.
He received further monies from the developer on October 10, 2006, and a third and final payment on December 22, 2006.
The jury had been urged by Forsey's defence to treat his ex-wife's evidence with caution as "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned".
John Phelan SC said Forsey was not being charged with the break-up of his marriage. While he said his client was a 'Walter Mitty' character who acted the "eejit with money", he said he didn't "rob a bank" and went to a developer with his "hat in his hand".
Forsey accepted he got the money throughout the case but denied it was a gift or bribe. He argued he had no say in rezoning land as he was only a town councillor, however, the trial heard evidence of him lobbying other councillors to support the rezoning.