Clerk steals boss’ money to fix car

September 20, 2023

A 21-year-old payroll clerk will have to repay almost $600,000 that she withdrew from her employer's bank account, which she used to repair a vehicle she crashed during a river excursion.

"It was a case of life and death. So last year I rented a car, me and some friends and we met in an accident. The car was really damaged and I had to pay for it as I was the one who rented it. I started to get threats from the owner," the defendant Ruth-Ann Russell explained.

Russell made the startling confession in the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court on Tuesday as she pleaded guilty to larceny as a servant, conspiracy to defraud and access with intent to commit or facilitate the commission of an offence.

Prosecutors contend that Russell was employed to a company that sells fire safety equipment and was added to the complainant's bank account, for the sole purpose of paying utility bills and staff salaries. It was shared that sometime in July, the complainant attempted to contact Russell for payments to be made to the staff, but his calls went unanswered. The complainant went to the bank and requested a printout of the bank account. He realised that $598,000 was withdrawn by Russell without his authorisation.

"You were put in a position of trust and a lot of confidence was placed in you and to abuse that, you know how many 21-year-olds would have wanted to be in your position to have had access to that amount of money and you abused him? You abused your employer. You should go to prison," Senior Parish Judge Lori-Anne Cole-Montaque stated.

But the complainant pleaded with the jurist that Russell not be imprisoned as she was a "smart, bright" young lady.

"He is willing to accept less than what she took," the prosecutor told the judge.

"What a compassionate heart you have, Sir. Unfortunately for him, it is not up to him, it is up to me what is done with you," the judge indicated.

The complainant then told the judge that Russell stole the money from him to attend parties with her friends.

"Some of these parties that these young people go to, even me as a judge I can't afford them. For you to maintain that sort of lifestyle, if you are not earning legitimately, you are going to get it by criminal means. That is why she should pay back every red cent," Cole-Montaque reasoned.

Russell made a first payment of $100,000 in court. She was made the subject of a fingerprint order and is to return to court on November 1 to be sentenced. Cole-Montaque ordered that Russell is to bring at least $220,000 as compensation. She also imposed bail conditions subjecting Russell to surrender her travel documents and to report to the police once weekly. A stop order was also imposed at the island's ports.

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