SINGAPORE - A Filipino domestic worker forged her employer's signature on stolen cheques and stole $4,060 worth of jewellery from a safe box.
Mercyluna Misa Villajos, 34, was jailed for eight months on Thursday (March 10) after she admitted to two counts of forgery and one of stealing from her employer, Mr Chee Choe Yin, at his apartment in Cambridge Road. Five other charges were taken into consideration during sentencing.
The court heard that Villajos found a key to her employer's safe box in his pants pocket in November 2014 and kept it.
She later used it to open the safe box and stole eight rings and a gold necklace totalling $4,060.
Sometime in December that year, while Mr Chee was out, she took his United Overseas Bank cheque book on the dining table and removed nine cheques.
On Dec 5, she wrote the word "CASH" under the payee column and the amount of $1,250 on a cheque. She encashed the cheque eight days later. She claimed that she remitted the money to her relatives in the Philippines.
On the same occasion, she also took Mr Chee's POSB cheque book from a drawer in the master bedroom. She removed four cheques and wrote the amount of $2,000 on one.
She asked a friend to encash it on her behalf on Dec 16. Villajos returned $1,000 she owed to her friend and claimed she remitted the remaining sum to her relatives back home.
Both times, she forged Mr Chee's signature by referring to a separate document bearing his signature.
Mr Chee lodged a police report on Jan 6 last year after discovering cheques missing from his cheque book and unauthorised withdrawals had been made from his UOB account.
Pleading for leniency, Villajos' lawyer Krishna Morthy said the single mother of two was the sole breadwinner of her family. She received a call in December that year that her mother had Stage 4 liver cancer. The medical bills for her mother were unpaid and the family faced eviction.
Desperate and stressed by her mother's critical illness, she committed the offences, he said.
The maximum penalty for theft as a servant is seven years' jail and a fine, and for forgery, life imprisonment or 15 years' jail and a fine.