Pension manager pleads guilty to theft of US$289,660.12
The former manager of the Chamber of Commerce Pension Plan pleaded guilty in Grand Court on Tuesday to one count of stealing US$289,660.12 from the plan over a two-year period, from April 2009 to June 2011.
He is Robert William Schultz, 40, an American citizen who came to Cayman in 2007 when his wife secured a job here. He started working with the Chamber of Commerce a few months later, defence attorney Ben Tonner told Justice Charles Quin.
Crown Counsel Michael Snape told the court that the one count of theft was a “roll-up charge” covering 43 illegitimate transactions. He described Schultz as the sole salaried employee of the pension plan, working as pension administrator and overseen by a board of seven trustees. The seriousness of the offence was elevated by Schultz’s ability to forge some of the trustees’ signatures and submit fraudulent wire requests to the bank holding the pension funds, Mr. Snape said.
He cited the Court of Appeal’s comments on the seriousness of breaches of trust and suggested a starting point for sentencing at four years.
Mr. Tonner said the thefts did not start until Schultz became dependent on alcohol and cocaine after his marriage started falling apart and he moved out of the family home. He reported that the cocaine habit was costing Schultz between $200 and $500 per day and all of the money stolen was spent on the illegal drug.
Mr. Tonner detailed Schultz’s efforts to get help locally and abroad. He submitted that addiction is an illness and said theft in these circumstances differed from thefts committed out of greed for material things.
Schultz’s thefts were not very sophisticated, he suggested. Monies were transferred from the chamber account to his personal account, from which he then withdrew sums, leaving an obvious paper trail that led to him. The fraud was discovered in November 2011 by his replacement at the chamber. When Schultz attended the office to obtain work permit papers for another job, he was confronted and immediately admitted what he had done, the attorney narrated.
He pointed out that Schultz has been in custody since March this year and had indicated early on a willingness to plead guilty. He asked for a sentence that would allow Schultz to work and pay the money back; he handed up a letter containing a job offer.
Justice Quin said he wanted to look again at the material submitted by both sides, including sentencing precedents, a social inquiry report and various character references. He adjourned sentencing until Tuesday, 4 December.