A customer service representative had been working at a bank for four months when she began stealing from customers’ accounts, Mrs. Justice Priya Levers heard on Friday.
After hearing facts and mitigation, she sentenced Tamika Joanne Francis to two years imprisonment and ordered her to pay compensation.
Francis, 22, pleaded guilty in Summary Court to eight thefts that occurred in the latter part of 2005 (Caymanian Compass, 9 August). The magistrate later sent the case to Grand Court for sentencing because of the amount involved – over $32,000.
For each theft there was a corresponding charge of making a document without authority – that is, a withdrawal slip in the name of the person from whose account the money was taken at Cayman National Bank.
Crown Counsel Kirsty-Ann Gunn said Francis was discovered when she went to another branch of CNB in an attempt to obtain property by deception. A co-worker was there on business and thought it strange that Francis would have got time off from her workplace because it was so close to Christmas.
Questioning led to the defendant’s admissions of what she had been doing. She said she had been threatened by a man she identified with only a first name. She said she had to withdraw the money or else she or her family members would be harmed.
Further investigation revealed that she had bought a car with $8,000 cash, plus appliances, furniture and clothing. Her accounts showed that she had $1,500 wired to herself in Jamaica while she was on vacation. She denied purchasing the car with stolen money.
Defence Attorney Menelik Miller told the court that Francis was being pressured by the man. Being young and inexperienced, she did not know what to do.
He further said the majority of funds were not spent for her benefit.
Even before the matter came to court, Francis undertook to pay the money back. The family planned to sell their house to do so.
Mr. Miller produced a letter from a realtor citing the property’s value.
Mrs. Justice Levers looked at it and pointed out that the property was worth $470,000, while the debt was $32,000. They did not have to sell, unless there were other matters the court did not know about, she said. She suggested getting a mortgage.
The judge said Francis clearly knew what she was doing when she stole. She could have gone to police if she were threatened.