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DH jailed 2 weeks for stealing from boss’ bank account

15 July 2017

By Vir B. Lumicao

A Filipina maid was jailed for two weeks on July 4 after admitting in Eastern Court that she used her employer’s ATM card which was lent to her to buy groceries, to withdraw a total of $2,000 cash for her own use.

Chita Rovero, 48, sniffled as she pleaded guilty to each of five counts of theft filed against her.

Magistrate Bina Chainrai rejected an application from the prosecution to order Rovero to compensate the victim, Australian lawyer Stuart Alexander Jessup, saying the helper was not financially capable of paying back the stolen money.

The prosecution said the thefts took place each time Rovero, a single mother, went to Market Place at Seymour Place in Mid-Levels to buy grocery for Jessup.  The employer had authorized Rovero, his domestic helper since October 2016, to use his HSBC ATM card to pay for grocery purchases, entrusting her the card’s PIN.  

Between May 16 and May 25 this year, Rovero went to Market Palace five times to buy grocery and, at the same time, withdraw cash from Jessup’s bank account without his knowledge.

She made a total of five cash withdrawals amounting to $500 on May 16, another $500 on May 22, $500 again on May 23, $300 on May 24, and $200 on May 25.

Jessup checked his HSBC account online on May 25 and discovered the grocery purchases at Market Place were noticeably significant. He later saw the discrepancies between the receipts Rovero gave him and the online transaction records.

On June 3, the employer requested Market Place for receipts of purchases made with his ATM card and found five unauthorized cash withdrawal transactions on the same days Rovero went to the shop to buy goods.

Jessup confronted Rovero and she admitted making the withdrawals. The employer dismissed her and she moved out of the house. On June 4, Jessup reported the theft and a day later the helper surrendered at the Central Police Station.

Rovero was arrested and charged with five counts of theft.

After Rovero pleaded guilty to all five charges on July 4, the defense lawyer said in mitigation that the maid committed the offenses “out of need and desperation, instead of greed”. She noted the helper’s father died in March this year and her 18-year-old son needed money to pay for his school examination.

In sentencing, the  magistrate said the thefts from the employer’s ATM account were a serious breach of trust that called for a custodial sentence. She sent Rovero to jail for two weeks, discounted from three for her guilty plea.

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