As a manager at the restaurant, Christine Tiongson was given the authority to refund customers’ money using a swipe card – which the New Zealand Herald reported on Wednesday
was used by Tiongson to pocket funds.
Despite her offer to reimburse the company $2000, and supportive statements from her former bosses, Tiongson was sentenced by Judge Rob Ronayne to two years and three months in jail.
He told the court that Tiongson’s financial circumstances were unfortunate but not particularly remarkable.
Tiongson’s discretions reportedly came to light when a 2014 internal fraud report found disproportionately high refunds being paid out, which coincided with shifts where she was acting as manager.
Tiongson subsequently admitted to the theft during a disciplinary meeting, and was dismissed.
In spite of Tiongson’s theft and consequent dismissal, she later secured employment with restaurant chain Mexicali Fresh. Her boss at the restaurant wrote Tiongson a “glowing reference” and claimed they would continue to employ her if she was sentenced to home detention.
Tiongson’s defence counsel was also “somewhat surprised” that the franchise owner of the Bombay McDonald’s was keen for her to avoid a jail sentence.
However, the judge did not share this sentiment.
“I'm not sure she had any belief she was entitled to take the money,” he said. “On the contrary, I think she knew perfectly well she shouldn't take it. The motivation for this was a combination of misplaced need but also some greed. I can't ignore the comments to the probation officer that having got away with it, it simply became a habit.”
Tiongson was also ordered to pay back $12,000 of the stolen money.
A former McDonald’s employee was sentenced to jail at Pukekohe District Court this week, after it was found that she had embezzled $166,000 from the Bombay franchise.