SINGAPORE - As the principal of Acekidz @ SG pre-school education cum childcare centre in Jurong, Cheryl Zaneta Kaur Nespal received more than $46,000 from parents for items such as school fees.
But the money was used instead to cover her personal expenses.
On Monday (Dec 2), the 30-year-old was sentenced to a year's jail after pleading guilty to one count of criminal breach of trust by a servant.
She was principal of the centre from July 2016, and her services were terminated in August 2017.
Acekidz @ SG has seven pre-school education cum childcare centres in housing estates such as Hougang, Yishun and Choa Chu Kang.
As the principal and supervisor of its Jurong centre, Kaur was in charge of its overall operations and managed the centre's finances, which had her collecting school fees.
Between October 2016 and July 2017, she received $46,687.70 in total from the parents of 29 children for school fees and other items.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Thiam Jia Min said that instead of depositing the monies into her then employer's bank account, Kaur used them to cover her personal expenses.
The court heard that the matter came to light when the company's chief executive chanced upon a payment receipt which Kaur had issued to one of the affected parents.
The DPP told District Judge Tan Jen Tse: "Although the payment receipt bore the company's stamp, the payment receipt itself was not the kind issued by the company. Further checks by the (CEO) revealed that the child of the said parent was not enrolled in the company's system."
The CEO confronted Kaur, who confessed. Police were alerted on Sept 25, 2017.
"The full extent of her misappropriation came to light after police investigations commenced," said DPP Thiam. To date, she has made restitution totalling $2,000 to the firm.
The DPP had earlier urged Judge Tan to sentence Kaur to at least 13 months' jail, stressing that a "significant sum" had been misappropriated with "minimal restitution".
Defence lawyer Shaneet Rai, who was assigned to the case under the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme, pleaded for his client to be given not more than a year's jail.
Mr Rai added: "She has realised the folly of her actions and feels deep remorse for running afoul of the law."
For criminal breach of trust by a servant, Kaur could have been jailed for up to 15 years and fined.