An employee who stole thousands of dollars in gambling chips from Burnaby’s Grand Villa Casino so he could support an older brother diagnosed with cancer has been granted a conditional discharge and ordered to pay back some of the money.
Kim Shing Leung, 58, was in Vancouver provincial court last Wednesday and pleaded guilty to one count of theft under $5,000 in relation to thefts between Jan. 1 and May 10 in 2020.
“It came to light that he was seen taking gambling chips from the table and placing them in his pocket,” Crown prosecutor Sharon Preston said.
Leung had originally been accused of theft over $5,000, but that charge was changed at his sentencing hearing.
Leung, a married father with one adult daughter, had worked at Grand Villa for 13 years before he was fired for stealing, and Preston said she would normally have called for time in jail or a conditional sentence order because the offence involved employee theft.
But Leung’s case was an unusual one, she said, because of “real steps” he has taken to make up for his mistakes and because of his reason for stealing the chips.
“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,” defence lawyer Julia Hung said.
Preston called for a 12-month suspended sentence with orders to pay back $2,500, write a letter of apology and stay away from the casino.
Hung agreed to everything except the suspended sentence.
She argued for a conditional discharge, meaning Leung wouldn’t have a criminal record if he abided by the conditions of his sentence.
Hung said Leung has already suffered a lot of “collateral consequences,” including shame, job loss and difficulty finding employment after getting fired.
She also noted Leung’s guilty plea and the fact he had already taken counselling sessions at his own expense and voluntarily performed about 100 hours of community work service with the Greater Vancouver Food Bank and Oceanwise Shoreline Cleanups.
Before delivering his sentence, B.C. provincial court Judge James Sutherland said employee theft is a “very serious offence” but noted Leung’s lack of criminal record, his efforts at rehabilitation and the collateral consequences he has already suffered.
Sutherland concluded the discharge wasn’t contrary to the public interest and that Leung “has a lot to offer the community if the doors of opportunity are open to him.”
The discharge was granted, and Leung was order to pay back $2,500, stay away from the casino and write an apology letter.
Leung's brother did not survive his battle with cancer, according to Hung.
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