SINGAPORE — The assistant manager of an upmarket Italian restaurant who misappropriated over $20,000 from his workplace to allegedly pay the medical fees of his former lover’s daughter was jailed nine months on Monday (21 October).
Maja Iskandaria Mohamed Juffri, 35, would initially return the amounts he took from the Monti restaurant’s safe after payday but later found himself unable to as he began taking larger sums of cash. He pleaded guilty to one count of criminal breach of trust as a servant.
Over the four months he worked at the restaurant at Fullerton Pavilion, Maja was responsible for collecting the daily takings and ensuring that the sum collected tallied with sales records. He was also entrusted with keeping the cash in the restaurant’s safe before depositing the money into the restaurant’s bank account the following day.
Maja began taking money from the restaurant’s safe in January. On 29 April, the restaurant’s general manager questioned Maja about the missing money after the eatery’s finance department noticed that daily sales proceeds had not been deposited for some time.
In total, Maja was found to have misappropriated $21,223.41. He claimed he remitted all the stolen money to his then-girlfriend who lives in the Philippines. To date, he has paid only $760.50 in restitution to the restaurant.
Maja had also previously been convicted and sentenced over criminal breach of trust offences in 2013 and 2014.
No evidence of remittances
Deputy Public Prosecutor Sheldon Lim sought nine months’ jail for Maja stating that the latter’s offence had been premeditated and he had used the restaurant as his “personal bank account”. The prosecutor added that Maja even had a system to avoid detection by repaying the money at the end of the month – which worked until he lost control of his finances.
Maja, who was unrepresented, said that he sent the stolen money to his then lover in the Philippines, with whom he has a five-year-old son. He also claimed that the woman has two daughters from a previous marriage, one of whom died in 2016.
“At that time I couldn’t save her because when we went to the hospital they demanded a certain payment at 3am in the morning, which I couldn’t (pay) and the following morning she passed away,” said Maja.
“This year, a similar case happened to her younger sister, which is kidney failure, and I didn’t want it to happen even though we are separated,” he added. Maja told the court that he is also supporting his ailing mother.
In response, DPP Lim said that although he had “great sympathy for the accused”, Maja had not been able to provide evidence for his remittances to the woman. Maja then told the court that he would be able to retrieve the receipts from Western Union.
District Judge Carol Ling said that she was willing to take Maja’s word regarding the offences.
“Of course that doesn’t condone what you have done. The ends do not justify the means of how you have gone about doing it,” she said.
“Let me also add that you do have people who believe in you. There is a lot more that is ahead so, Mr Maja don’t look back and don’t give yourself a reason to come back to court again.”
Maja’s bailor was a former employer, whom he worked for prior to joining the Monti restaurant. Maja also told the court that this former employer was willing to hire him once he ends his prison stint.
For committing criminal breach of trust as a servant, Maja could have been jailed up to 15 years and fined.
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