Community service for Punch N’ Play scam

Judge cites defendant’s early desire to plead guilty, full repayment to Foster’s Food Fair

Paul Russell Lankford was ordered on Tuesday to perform 240 hours of community service as part of his sentence for dishonest use of Punch N’ Play cards that were distributed to Foster’s Food Fair customers in 2010. 

The 240 hours is the maximum provided for in the Penal Code. 

Lankford pleaded guilty earlier this month to obtaining $5,000 by deception, stealing $100, and attempting to obtain $2,500 by deception. The charges arose from three separate incidents in which Punch N’ Play cards were presented that apparently had prize values in those amounts. However, the prize values on all three cards had been altered from their original, which was $1. 

The deception was discovered because the Foster’s promotion included displays at all stores with photographs of the winners. Justice Charles Quin noted in his summary of facts that it was Woody Foster, managing director of Foster’s Food Fair, who noticed a photo of Lankford in the $100 prize section, as well as a new photo of him and his girlfriend in the $5,000 prize section. Mr. Foster was then made aware of Lankford’s attempt to redeem a forged card with a $2,500 prize. 

Justice Quin listed factors he took into account in passing sentence. As noted by defence attorney John Furniss, Lankford was not the one who created the false cards, but he did take advantage of them. He had been drinking heavily at the time of the offences – in August and September 2010 – but had stopped. He was remorseful and had apologised to the grocery store chain. 

Mr. Furniss also had advised the court that Lankford wanted to plead guilty when the matter first went to Summary Court, but his then-girlfriend, who had also been charged, elected to be tried in Grand Court. The Crown eventually did not proceed against her. 

Crown Counsel Michael Snape reported that all money had been returned to Foster’s Food Fair. He confirmed that Lankford had no previous convictions and had cooperated with authorities.  

The judge also considered “the very fair and sympathetic approach” taken by Mr. Foster, and a comprehensive social inquiry report that indicated a low risk of re-offending.  

Lankford was accordingly sentenced to 12 months probation, with conditions that he complete the community service ordered and attend any counselling or programme as directed by his probation officer. 

The Compass previously reported that, in connection with Punch N’ Play, at least one young man pleaded guilty in Summary Court and had been dealt with. Justice Quin referred to this case and a second one involving a young woman, also in Summary Court. Each involved one transaction with one altered card. The judge noted that the court did not record a conviction against either of these defendants. 

Cayman Islands Courthouse

The Law Courts Building in downtown George Town. – Photo: File
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