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Former Government worker repays stolen money

Former Government worker repays stolen money

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Former government employee Stacia Aberdeen last Tuesday repaid $7,570, which she had stolen from the Inland Revenue Department.{{more}}

Aberdeen, a resident of Green Hill, in 2011 had initially pleaded not guilty to 112 counts of theft and deception, after it was alleged that she had stolen over $100,000.

On Tuesday, at the Serious Offences Court, Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne-Matthias said she was proceeding with the matter on that day, one way or the other, adding that she did not like backlogs in the court. The matter had been adjourned several times since September 2011.

In a strange twist, Aberdeen’s lawyer, Arthur Williams, then told the court that his client was in a position to repay the money right away.

Senior prosecutor Adolphus Delpesche rose to his feet and told the court that the prosecution was prepared to deal with some of the matters, stating that it was “humanly impossible” to deal with all the matters at once. He further noted that his witnesses from the Inland Revenue Department were present in court and he was ready to begin.

Williams then rose to his feet at the bar table and said, “Yes, but I told you (Delpesche) something already. Your honour, as a matter of common sense, if I thief some money and I say I go pay it back, I go pay it back. She (Aberdeen) will pay back the money.”

The Chief Magistrate, in response, said she was open to payment.

“That’s what you’re saying? Payment is happening today? Okay, let me do some maths here. Since we have that position coming from the bar table, here is what I am saying. I see in front of me today, 112 matters in all. I could do some quick addition and come up with the total for all the 112 matters and I’ll gladly accept money today,” Browne-Matthias said.

Aberdeen was made to state under oath that the money would be repaid, but she was not made to enter a guilty plea. The charges were not read to her, nor were the facts surrounding the matter disclosed.

“I see altogether the sum of $7,570 as being the total sum involved here for these 112 matters,” said Browne-Matthias, to which Williams replied, “We have the money!”

Williams then asked to be excused, went out of the court and returned with a white envelope filled with money, which was then passed to the court’s clerk.

“You were in a position of trust and confidence and matters of this nature affect the whole government service. You have to be very careful with the position you hold,” the chief magistrate told Aberdeen.

The magistrate also placed Aberdeen on a one-year bond in the sum of $2,500. Breach of the bond will result in a one-year custodial sentence.

Initial reports were that over 60 witnesses were expected to testify in the matter, which could have taken the prosecution months to complete.

On September 5, 2011, Aberdeen was charged with 50 counts of theft and over the following year, additional charges were laid.

Following the conclusion of the case, Delpesche explained that Williams stated that his client could repay the money and that the magistrate took evidence on oath that she has agreed to repay the money.

“There were 56 theft and 56 deception charges laid against her and they amounted to just over $7,000,” Delpesche said.

“She was stealing, but not in large sums. What she would do is put a figure on one receipt and will have another receipt where she will put another figure and the latter receipt is what she would put into the system,” the prosecutor explained.

Delpesche, however, said the prosecution had been, in fact, prepared to prosecute the matter in pieces.

“If this development didn’t come about, we were going to do 35 in the first round. We couldn’t do 112, but because of the development, that’s it,” he said.

When contacted, Director of Public Prosecutions Colin Williams said he was informed that Aberdeen had pleaded guilty, was bonded and ordered to repay the money.

When questioned as to why the facts in the matter weren’t read out or why weren’t the charges put to her, the DPP said: “because she had pleaded not guilty before, the same ought to be read to her and let her change her plea and the facts should have been given… that is very strange to me. I would have expected it done differently,” adding that it was not a common practice for that to happen.

Speaking about the initial reports that $100,000 had been stolen, Williams explained that numerically, there may have been a lot of charges, but in terms of the quantity of money taken, the amounts may not have been large.

“It might be a large number of transactions, but I don’t know what the sums are,” he said. According to the DPP, Aberdeen had targeted certain kinds of people.

“She was targetting the aged, those people who are overseas. Even though she might have stolen money in relation to certain people, getting a case built from those people may have been difficult. So, it is what you could have made a case in relation to. I know that that would have been another consideration in terms of the charges that would have gone forward,” he said.

“It does not necessarily represent the total amount of the offending, but what could effectively be proved at a criminal trial.”(KW)

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