Ex-paralegal gets a day's jail, $25K fine for cheating lawyer

A former paralegal was jailed a day and fined a total of $25,000 on Thursday for cheating and giving false information to the police. Jeremiah Aloysius Thomas, 44, who faced 16 charges, pleaded guilty to five charges of cheating lawyer Uthayasurian Sidambaram of Surian & Partners of $27,990 in 2006 and 2007, and one of lying to the police in 2010. He is now unemployed.

He was working for the law firm at Chinatown Point when he presented DBS cheques with Ms Goh Hwee Nah as payee for Mr Surian's approval for sums of between $4,895 and $10,000 to be paid from the firm's client account when Ms Goh was not a client. She is his wife.

In all, he cheated Mr Surian of $48,692. He has made full restitution. A district court heard that a manager of the firm made a police report in March 2010, alleging that Thomas had collected $1,000 from a client, Mr Khor Kheng Wei, and had issued him with a receipt from a receipt book which had been reported as lost.

Mr Khor had given a cash cheque of $1,000 to Thomas in September 2007 to terminate a timeshare membership. Thomas claimed the sum was for legal fees but kept the money after encashing the cheque. Three years later Mr Khor enquired about the status of his case and was told that the firm did not receive his $1,000 payment.

Worried that the firm would investigate further and find out that he had kept the $1,000 for himself, Thomas told Mr Khor that he had taken over his case and had found a buyer for his timeshare membership for $8,000. The court heard that the money actually came from Thomas. There was no genuine buyer for the time-share membership.

Ten other charges were taken into consideration.