Grand Villa Casino Worker Stole Chips to Help Dying Brother, Spared Prison
A former employee of the Grand Villa Casino in Burnaby, Metro Vancouver, fired for palming thousands of dollars’ worth of chips off of gaming tables, has been spared prison.
That’s after the Vancouver provincial court learned that Kim Shing Leung, 58, had taken the chips in an effort to shoulder the costs of medical treatment, Burnaby Now reports.
At the time, his elder brother was battling cancer. Despite Leung’s efforts to support him financially, his brother ultimately died from the illness.
“His older brother was diagnosed with late-stage cancer, and Mr Leung felt he needed to provide his brother financial support, as the treatments were quite expensive,” his lawyer Julia Hung said, as quoted by BN.
Leung pleaded guilty last Wednesday to one count of theft under $5,000 between Jan. 1 and May 10, 2020, when he was fired by the casino. The property is owned by Gateway Casinos and headquartered in Burnaby. Leung had worked for the company for 13 years.
The married father of an adult daughter was originally accused of taking more than $5,000, which he palmed from gaming tables into his pocket, according to court records seen by BN. But the charge was reduced at his sentencing hearing.
BC provincial court Judge James Sutherland ordered Leung to pay back $2,500, to stay away from the casino, and to write an apology letter.
Sentencing, Sutherland emphasized that employee theft is a “very serious offense.” But he chose leniency, citing Leung’s lack of criminal record, efforts towards rehabilitation, and other mitigating circumstances.
Crown prosecutor Sharon Preston had called for an additional 12-month suspended sentence. However, Sutherland determined this was not necessary, as Leung had “a lot to offer the community if the doors of opportunity are open to him.”
The Crown would normally press for prison time in the case of employee theft. But Preston acknowledged Leung had taken “real steps” to make amends.
Hung said Leung had already suffered from the consequences of his action, including shame, job loss, and difficulty finding employment following his termination by Grand Villa Casinos.
Preston praised Leung’s guilty plea and noted he had taken counseling sessions at his own expense. Leung had also voluntarily undertaken around 100 hours of community service with the Greater Vancouver Food Bank and Oceanwise Shoreline Cleanups.
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