Pension manager gets five years

No theft repayment order made

Robert William Schultz, 40, was sentenced on Tuesday to five years imprisonment after pleading guilty last month to theft of US$289,660.12 from the Chamber of Commerce Pension Plan, for which he was the manager and sole salaried employee. 

Grand Court Justice Charles Quin passed sentence after revealing several facts that had not been made public previously, including Schultz’s attempt to abscond and the effect of the theft on the victim. 

The defendant was confronted about the series of thefts in November 2011, Justice Quin summarised. He was arrested, granted bail with a $10,000 surety, and advised that a stop notice was issued for him [so that he could not leave the country]. But on Wednesday, 26 March 2012, officers of the Immigration Department at the Royal Watler Terminal stopped him from boarding the cruise ship Carnival Valor. He had his passport and a boarding pass. He was immediately re-arrested. [When he was brought to court the next day, he was wearing shorts and a T-shirt.] 

“It is clear the defendant was attempting to abscond,” Justice Quin said. “One is therefore forced to question the genuineness and sincerity of the defendant’s professed contrition and remorse when he took such serious steps to evade punishment for his fraudulent actions.”  

Schultz, an American citizen, began working as pension fund administrator in October 2007. He had been paid a salary of $5,780.33 per month. The thefts began in April 2009 and continued through June 2011. The smallest sum stolen was $675 on 4 September 2009, while the largest sum was $12,500 on 5 April, 2011.  

As plan administrator, he submitted fraudulent letters to the bank that held the pension funds and he requested that the various sums be paid into his personal account at another bank. He used Chamber Plan letterhead paper and forged the signatures of two of the seven trustees, Crown Counsel Michael Snape said.  

In listing the various aggravating features of the offence, the judge included the degree of trust placed in Schultz, the amount stolen, the period of offending, and the effect on the victim. 

In this regard he read a statement from William Fleury, manager of the Chamber of Commerce Pension Plan. Mr. Fleury said that the plan is a nonprofit entity, whose goals are to help provide for the retirement of members, protect the assets of the plan, and deliver the highest possible returns to the plan members, who come from all walks of life. 

“This incident has harmed the reputation of the plan and comes at a time when we are working to educate the public as to the merits of pension savings,” Mr. Fleury wrote. “In conclusion, the trustees wish for the full extent of the law to be applied to Mr. Schultz.”  

Justice Quin said Schultz had chosen to steal from the very institution that provided his livelihood. “Furthermore, the defendant showed a cynical and callous lack of concern for the fact that the funds he administered could become the sole source of income for persons saving hard for their retirement,” he commented. 

Defence attorney Ben Tonner had told the court last month that all of the stolen money was spent on cocaine. He said Schultz started using the illegal substance after his marriage broke down. His addiction was costing him between $200 and $500 per day. 

Mr. Tonner described the thefts as unsophisticated, noting that Schultz had left a paper trail, that was soon discovered by another employee after he resigned. He also pointed out that Schultz had entered a drug rehabilitation programme overseas and had sought help locally as well.  

In custody since March, he had been an exemplary inmate, a reference letter indicated. Another letter included an offer of employment. 

Schultz had expressed a desire to return all of the money stolen. It was agreed that crafting a sentence that would allow him to do so would be difficult, since he had been on work permit and had no local ties. 

The judge said he had received no request for compensation, but had considered some form of compensation order. However, he found it would be unrealistic to expect that Schultz would be granted a permit to work again in the Cayman Islands and “I cannot envisage how this court could properly oversee any repayment plan when the defendant is no longer in this jurisdiction,” he said. 

Justice Quin said he had found this case to be one of the most serious breaches of trust to come before the court.  

He referred to United Kingdom sentencing precedents and guidelines as to how the amount of money stolen could affect the length of sentence.  

Noting that UK sentences involve pounds, he stated, “There is a compelling basis for treating the Cayman dollar as having parity of value with the UK pound for the purposes of sentencing, and not to engage in a currency conversion process.”  

The sentence had to reflect the gravity of the breach of trust and serve as a deterrent to others, he said. The five-year term imposed incorporated a 25 per cent discount for the guilty plea, he emphasised. Schultz will get credit for time in custody. 

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1 COMMENT

  1. A question not apparently asked by the Media of the Chamber of Commerce is, will the Chamber be replacing the stolen funds? Will the Chamber be taking Civil action against the assets of the individual?

    It seems that the Chamber is getting away without being asked any questions.

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