Casino cashier made up robbery to mask theft

POSTED: 08/8/13 2:15 PM

St. Maarten – A cashier at the Casino Royale in Maho who invented an armed robbery to mask the theft of close to $2,700 from her employer received a 3-month prison sentence with 1 month conditional in the Court in First Instance yesterday. The 47-year-old woman, Ruby Valencia Fernandez did not attend the trial – she has in the meantime left the country.

The theft occurred more than three years ago, on February 28, 2010. Fernandez reported that two black men had entered the casino at 2 a.m., put a gun against her head and grabbed money from her till – an amount of $2,664.

When investigators reviewed footage from security cameras they did not see the men the defendant described enter of leave the casino.

The Colombian-born cashier, who earned 900 guilders per 2 weeks, spent 10 days in preventive custody after she had become a suspect.

“The camera images do not show anything,” prosecutor Tineke Kamps told the court. “There were no men that met the description she gave. That is when doubts arose about her statement. I am convinced that she lied and that she stole the money.”

The prosecution charged Fernandez with two crimes: theft and filing a false report. Because the defendant no longer lives in St. Maarten, the prosecutor did not see the point of making part of her demand conditional. She demanded 3 months imprisonment.

Attorney Geert Hatzmann noted that his absent client had been interviewed half an hour after the robbery supposedly happened. “She must have had the money still on her at that time,” he said. “Why has she not been searched? I see the evidence but I miss the persuasion in this case.”

Hatzmann contested the prosecutor’s demand with a reference to the Judella Heyliger case – whereby a known family friend defrauded Heyliger’s dying mother of $4,200 by stealing her bank card and pin code. “The demand was 6 months conditional and 80 hours of community service. The court only added 20 hours to the community service.”

Hatzmann also criticized the fact that his client was dragged into court after such a long time. “Apparently the prosecutor’s office is working on a major cleanup, but it is disappointing that my client has to stand trial after such a long time.”

He asked the court to acquit his client or to declare her guilty without imposing any punishment.

Judge Koos van der Ven did not play ball: “There is sufficient evidence. At the time of the so-called robbery there were no dark men running out of the casino. There is only one exit and the defendant has not been able to come up with a plausible explanation.”

The court sentenced Fernandez to 3 months imprisonment, but made 1 month conditional. “That is significant,” the judge said, “because the defendant still has a daughter living here, so she has ties with St. Maarten.”

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