Bank teller jailed for theft of $1,165

Guilty pleas and full repayment were not enough to prevent a prison sentence for a bank teller who stole $1,165 from Cayman National Bank, where he had worked for six years.

Abraham Devin Frederick, 25, was sentenced Wednesday by Magistrate Angelyn Hernandez to 14 weeks’ imprisonment after he pleaded guilty to one count of theft and three of false accounting in 2013.

The magistrate cited a Grand Court case of theft by a bank employee from an international customer; the judge had spoken of the need to protect the reputation of the Cayman Islands and the banking industry. Her opinion was that banks serving local customers are just as important, and the courts must protect them as well.

Crown counsel Greg Walcolm set out the background to the charges, and defense attorney Prathna Bodden spoke in mitigation.

A 1985 U.K. case sets guidelines for dealing with theft or fraud by persons who abuse their position of trust. In general, imprisonment is inevitable except in exceptional circumstances or when the amount is small, and the court should pass a sentence sufficient to mark publicly the gravity of the offense.

The magistrate said that although Frederick was a teller and at a lower level in the banking hierarchy, he had the independence and the ability to steal and cover up his thefts. She pointed out that his was not a single impulsive act; the thefts took place over a month. It was an aggravating factor that he had manipulated the system in a somewhat sophisticated way, so that the missing money was not caught until a spot audit, she summarized.

The three false accounting charges detail that he made withdrawal entries to create an appearance of “balance” in cash totals, which were subsequently reversed after the teller report had been printed for the day.

The magistrate referred to what she described as a very helpful social inquiry report that had been prepared after Frederick entered his guilty pleas. Frederick had said the money was used to help his mother with mortgage payments, to help his partner and to pay court fines for traffic offenses. “These are difficulties many people must deal with without turning to crime,” the magistrate pointed out.

She said the defendant’s attitude seemed to be one of “no big deal” and he seemed surprised that he lost his job. But as his court date approached, he realized the seriousness of his situation and said what he had done was wrong and stupid.

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