Bank card thief finally punished

POSTED: 03/15/13 12:13 PM

St. Maarten – The Court in First Instance sentenced Nordica Cliantha Reed yesterday to a 6-month conditional prison sentence, 100 hours of community service and repayment of more than $4,600 to the victim of a credit card fraud.

With the sentence, a story that started in August 2011 has come to a conclusion. When Judella Heyliger travelled with her terminally ill mother for medical treatment to St. Maarten that year, she was accompanied by what she thought to be a trusted family friend. But that friend somehow got a hold of the mother’s bank card and the personal identity code and stole thousands of dollars from the bank account. Heyliger told this newspaper last year that the woman even stole money on the day her mother was buried. Reed took money out of the deceased woman’s bank account from ATM’s in St. Maarten and in Saba.

Heyliger discovered the next month that the money was missing. But it took until February of last year before the case landed on the desk of the prosecutor for the BES-islands, Marleen Overmeer. From there, it went to the prosecutor’s office in Philipsburg at a particularly bad time when this office was buried under work from, among others, the Vesuvius-case.

Heyliger hired attorney Geert Hatzmann to get the case moving and to recover the stolen money.

Yesterday the not so trustworthy family friend was in court to take responsibility for the theft. Prosecutor Gonda van der Wulp demanded a 6 month conditional prison sentence and 80 hours of community service.

Judella Heyliger, as the injured party, filed a claim for $4,200 (the stolen money) and another $413.92 in expenses she had to make to establish herself as the rightful heir to her mother’s money and for traveling.

Judge Tamara Tijhuis convicted Reed on all counts, but she upped the community service by 20 hours.

Attorney Hatzmann said that his client is extremely happy with the court ruling and with the fact that her former friend did not get away with the theft and instead had to take responsibility for it.’

Hatzmann considers the punishment mild. “Especially if you consider that the defendant has only been taken in for questioning and did not spend any time in preventive custody. This has to do with the fact that she has a 7-month old baby and that she has a job that she should not lose because otherwise she is not able to take care of her child and to repay the damages. She also did not have a criminal record and she has freely admitted to the court to what she did.”

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