A bank teller who stole from his till and put the money back received a suspended sentence, but with strict conditions, Friday after pleading guilty to a charge of false accounting.
Magistrate Valdis Foldats told defendant Rashad Hill that his offense was a breach of trust that would almost always be punished by a sentence of immediate imprisonment. Instead, he imposed a sentence meant to restrict Hill’s liberty as if he were in prison.
Hill admitted taking cash seven times, falsifying bank records to cover his tracks, and then replacing the amounts when he received his salary. When the offenses were discovered, he still owed $421.74, which was later repaid. The magistrate concluded that his offending stopped only because he was caught. The amounts he took totaled $1,741.
The magistrate first determined that the appropriate sentence was six months, but reduced to four months for Hill’s guilty plea. He then suspended that sentence for two years. Meanwhile, during the next four months, Hill is to abide by a curfew from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. weekdays while in employment, and a 24-hour curfew on weekends and holidays, subject to medical emergencies. He is to wear an electronic monitor during those four months and reside at a specified address.
Further, Hill is to pay his employer $5,000 to reimburse for half the cost of the investigation that was required after discovery of his wrongdoing. The magistrate said a stern sentence was necessary to denounce this type of crime and to deter like-minded individuals.
The magistrate indicated that one reason for his approach to sentence was the fact that although the offending took place between January and March, 2014, it was never reported to police until June of 2015; further, charges were not registered with the court until November of 2015.
Hill was 21 at the time of his offending and was now nearly 24, a delay of two and a half years which was not Hill’s fault, the magistrate noted. “This is a significant mitigating factor,” he said.
Defense attorney Prathna Bodden emphasized Hill’s immediate admissions to bank officials and, later, to police. A social inquiry report indicated that he was helping a relative with overseas medical expenses and was getting into financial difficulties as a result.
The magistrate pointed out that many people have to deal with financial pressures and trying to help family members. “Turning to crime to lessen one’s burdens cannot be condoned,” the magistrate said.
He pointed to Hill’s own comment that he could have tried other options, such as seeking assistance from the bank.
Among the factors considered in breach of trust cases is the effect on the victim, the magistrate noted. In this case, bank management and staff spent numerous hours investigating and analyzing records, then meeting with legal counsel. The total time spent doing so easily equated to a loss of $10,000.
The bank’s statement added: “Until this incident, we believed [the defendant] was a bright and honest young man. His actions and lack of integrity damaged the collective spirit of the bank employees, trust in the honesty of co-workers, and the collegial atmosphere.”
The effect of such offending on the public was also considered. The magistrate said tellers are the frontline of a bank’s operations and the point of contact with the public.
“They are faced with the opportunity and temptation to dip into the till every day. The banking industry and the public trust and expect these employees to resist temptation, and rely on the courts to deal firmly with those that cross the line,” he said.
The magistrate pointed out that Hill had lost his job and his reputation, but these were the normal consequences of this type of crime. He accepted the defendant’s remorse and willingness to pay a portion of the bank’s costs.
The compensation is to be paid within one year. If it is not paid, the defendant is to serve 90 days in default.