Ex-kindergarten principal jailed for pocketing nearly $40k

Ex-kindergarten principal jailed for pocketing nearly $40k

A former kindergarten principal was sentenced yesterday to three months in jail for misappropriating almost $40,000.

Between September 2009 and October last year, Lee Ooi Chun used money collected at two PAP Community Foundation (PCF) kindergarten centres in Ang Mo Kio to pay her gambling debts.

She was sentenced after pleading guilty to two of six charges, with the remainder taken into consideration.

Her job scope as principal of the kindergartens - at Block 319, Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1 and later Block 301, Ang Mo Kio Street 31 - included collecting various fees and depositing the funds into the foundation's account each month.

Instead, Lee, 60, pocketed the money, which included registration, insurance and uniform fees.

She did not key in records of collected sums but held on to acknowledgment receipts from the collections, a district court heard.

Lee's actions came to light following an internal audit in February this year, which uncovered cash shortages in the accounts.

Pleading for leniency, defence lawyer Lee Ee Yang said his client had returned in full the $37,117.60 pocketed. She committed the offences because of a gambling addiction that had landed her in debt, Mr Lee said. He noted that she had paid off most of the more than $50,000 she owed, with her husband's help. He added that his client has two grown-up children and is seeking counselling.

District Judge Crystal Ong noted, among other things, that the sum involved was large, and the money was not taken on the spur of the moment. A significant degree of trust had been placed in Lee, and others in similar positions had to be deterred from committing such offences, she said.

Lee is now a teacher at an enrichment centre, according to her lawyer. She could have been jailed for up to seven years and fined for each count of criminal breach of trust.

pohian@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on November 14, 2014.
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