Court punishes two men for years of electricity theft – Community service for supermarket owners

POSTED: 02/28/13 12:28 PM

St. Maarten – The Court in First Instance sentenced supermarket owners Roberto and Johnny Sang yesterday both to a 1-year suspended prison sentence with 2 years of probation for electricity theft. Roberto Sang has to do 180 hours of community service, his brother 240 hours.  The difference in the punishments stems from the fact that Jhonny was sentenced for outright theft and Roberto for the lesser charge of laundering.

A Gebe-employee discovered the theft on June 19 of last year when he saw that the seal on the supermarket’s electricity meter was broken. He called in an electrician from Gebe who found that on one of the three phases in the box a screw had been loosened and that a little hook that normally maintains the connection had been moved. “This results in the non-registration of the electricity that phase uses,” the electrician told investigators.

Jhonny Sang told investigators that he had spoken a man named Jno Baptiste in December 2009.”He would do something with the electricity meter whereby it would register less consumption. He did something with the meter of which I knew it was illegal,” Sang told investigators.

Police interrogated Baptiste on June 27 of last year whereby he admitted that he had manipulated the meter.

The court dismissed attorney Cor Merx’s argument that the manipulation was designed to let through less electricity and that there is therefore no proof that his clients stole electricity.

The court found Jhonny Sang guilty of stealing electricity during a 2.5 year period. His brother Roberto only discovered something was going on when he saw the charges for electricity inexplicably drop from 4000 to 2000 KW per month; he was therefore only aware of the situation for a period of two years.

The damages to the utilities company from this electricity theft alone is an estimated 36,000 guilders, about $20,000. The Sang’s are in the process of repaying Gebe their illegal gains.

 

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