Stolen money used for games, clothes

‘Stupidity and foolishness’ was the explanation Keith Omar Levy gave when Chief Magistrate Margaret Ramsay-Hale asked why he stole $4,175 from an employer who had treated him like a son.

Levy, 22, said he had spent the money on ‘childish stuff — video games and clothes. If I had to do it over again I wouldn’t have done it. It was a very stupid choice I made.’

Last week, that choice resulted in a prison sentence of 12 months and an order to finish paying the money back when he is released.

Earlier Levy pleaded guilty to 26 counts of theft and a corresponding 26 charges of false accounting. The offences occurred between January and July 2008 at Cyber Joe’s Internet Café, where Levy worked as a sales clerk and IT technician.

Details of the charges indicated that Levy stole amounts generally in the range of $100 to $250 at a time. He then falsified records required for accounting purposes by making an entry in the point-of-sale system falsely showing that the cash had been given out in a valid return transaction.

The magistrate had ordered a social inquiry report before sentencing and she read portions of it aloud. It said Levy was a trusted member of staff. His employers had treated him like family and were willing to underwrite his college tuition. Their confidence was broken by a prolonged and premeditated theft of money. He had apologised and made plans to pay the money back, but so far had returned only about $1,000.

Levy explained that after he lost his job he applied for others and always told prospective employers what had happened. He said it took time to get another job, but his present employers knew about the court case, liked his work and would keep him depending on what happened that day.

The magistrate reminded him that stealing from an employer is a breach of trust. Things the court must take into account when passing sentence include the use to which the money was put, the length of time over which the theft occurred and the amount stolen. ‘The sum of $4,000 is not trivial,’ she said.

Another factor was the degree of trust. In Levy’s case, the employers took so many steps to assist him that this breach of trust was most egregious, the magistrate concluded. There were no exceptional circumstances that would call for the court to even consider a non-custodial sentence.