Bail blow for ‘serial con-artist’ as more charges to follow
Tracy Morrison, who allegedly claimed to be Al Pacino's daughter, tries to get R5,000 bail dropped, but judge isn't having any of it
Suspected serial con artist Tracy Morrison has failed in her bid to have her R5,000 bail fee reduced, though it may not matter because she’s set to be charged again later in the week for similar crimes.
Morrison has been charged in the Randburg Magistrate’s Court with five counts of fraud as part of a series of investigations into her alleged criminality that is suspected to have spanned at least two decades.
The 57-year-old has been the subject of a series of media reports, and even a multi-part Special Assignment documentary, after being accused of conducting brazen yet sophisticated fraud schemes that netted her hundreds of thousands of rands. In the past she has allegedly claimed she was an FBI agent, a private investigator, a South African Police Service officer and even the daughter of Hollywood star Al Pacino.
On Monday, Morrison approached Randburg magistrate Liezel Davis – who granted her R5,000 bail in January – to ask to be released on warning, since there was no way she could afford to pay the amount.
Her defence lawyer, Jenna Clark, argued if the court sets the bail amount too high, it is tantamount to refusing bail altogether.
She reminded Davis that the court had ruled it was in the interest of justice to release Morrison on bail, but that after eight months in custody, she had been unable to derive an income, and couldn’t afford the bail.
Clark also argued that, because there were further criminal charges set to be added to the Randburg case, she would need to consult further with her client, and it would be significantly easier to do so if Morrison was released from custody.
She said her client was more than willing to face stricter bail conditions, even visiting a police station every day, if it meant she could be released on warning.
But prosecutor Yusuf Baba, in opposing the application, rubbished the argument, saying Clark had never had issues consulting with her client in the past.
He then told the court that during Morrison’s bail application in January she said she would be able to afford R500, as a friend had agreed to give her the money. He questioned why she was now asking to simply be released on a warning, meaning no fee whatsoever.
He revealed that Morrison had two other fraud convictions from Joburg Central, and that when she was last released on bail she “absconded” and had to be re-arrested.
Baba confirmed a further charge was set to be attached to the Randburg case, that two similar dockets had been opened in Kempton Park, and Morrison would be appearing at the court later this week to be charged – likely indicating yet another bail application on the way before she could possibly be released.
“The state will be asking for direct imprisonment if (Morrison) is found guilty (on the fraud counts),” he told the court.
He accused Morrison of failing to respect the courts, and said the court’s initial R5,000 bail ruling was more than fair.
Davis, before deciding on her ruling, also asked whether Morrison would still be staying with friends in Bramley if she was released on bail, as she had indicated in her initial bail application.
When asked the surnames of the friends who would be housing her, Morrison had to check her notes, which Baba immediately noted to the court.
“If she knew them as friends, she would know their last names,” he said, which Davis accepted.
When asked by Davis why her friend who had offered to pay R500 was no longer able to do so, Morrison explained – through Clark – that the friend had been in SA on holiday in January, but had returned to Dubai and could no longer provide the money.
Davis said the court would abide by its initial ruling and postponed the proceedings to the trial date in May.
According to the Randburg court charge sheet, the current five counts of fraud are:
On November 8 2017, Morrison convinced the complainant that she was the owner of a Morningside home, soliciting a R5,600 deposit for occupation of the property, and then ran off with the money;
She convinced the Morningside City Lodge that she could afford accommodation at the hotel, where she stayed for 10 nights in April 2018 before bolting;
On May 14 2018, Morrison allegedly failed to pay the R30,000 monthly rental on a luxury property in Atholl, Sandton;
A month later, she was accused of misrepresenting herself at a Berry Bottle Store in Sandton, claiming she “was authorised to enter into an agreement on behalf of … Gingerbread house (Pty) Ltd for the purchase of alcohol to the total amount of R5,675,25”;
In July 2018, she defrauded another person, claiming she required R14,000 to “purchase certain goods” – the charge sheet does not elaborate on this – but then could not return the money.