Tongatapu man jailed after stealing building materials worth $19,000 from employer by falsifying documents

A Nukunuku man was sent to jail after forging delivery documents to obtain building materials worth of TOP $19,644.

‘Etuate Siaosi Katoa, 31, pleaded guilty to two counts of falsification of account and one count of theft.  

Kātoa was working as a delivery driver for Anna’s Building Supplies at Kolofo’ou.

Court document showed that on or about September 16, 2023, he was at the business warehouse at Fangaloto loading building supplies to deliver them to a customer.

However, another employee by the name of Aveave Fonua discovered that the amount of hardie flex sheets loaded by Kātoa into the delivery truck was greater than the amount on the delivery book. When confronted Kātoa responded that they would unload the excess materials.

Aveave took Kātoa’s delivery book to double-check the records and in reviewing two delivery receipts, she discovered there was a discrepancy in the total amount compared to the quantity itemized on the delivery receipt.

Aveave took a photo of the pages and the receipts and reported the matter to the manager Tony Raj Kumar.

The Kumar and his partner Ruby then contacted Kātoa and asked him about the changes he made on the delivery book. Kātoa admitted to them and said he made the changes so that he could take the excess material to fix his house.

Kumar told Kātoa  to stay behind after work so they could talk, as they would be returning to Tonga on that same day. Kātoa left the office and did not contact the Kumar.

Kumar continued to review the sales receipts and delivery records which Kātoa was responsible for delivering. He discovered that this had occurred multiple times and had calculated the extra material which Kātoa has falsified in the delivery book and taken from the warehouse to a total amount of TOP$19, 644  for the months of August and September.

In August 2023, Kātoa falsified the business delivery book by inserting an additional number to the specified quantity or altering the number in the specified quantity, thereby increasing the quantity removed from the business warehouse from the actual quantity which was ordered and paid by the customers.

Kumar summarised the loss in August to a total of $11 , 689 pa’anga.

ln September 2023, Kātoa falsified the business delivery book again in the same manner.

Kumar summarised the loss in September to a total of TOP$7,955.

The total loss summarised by the manager came to a total of TOP$19,644.

On or about the last week of August, up to the first week of September, Kātoa and Kolio Puafisi made several deliveries of excess building supplies to ‘Unaloto Vea at Puke and there were several drop offs to a house in Tofoa.

On or about September 21, 2023, Kumar lodged a complaint to the police about the alleged falsification of the business delivery book by Kātoa.

On or about Friday,  September  21, 2023, at about 8pm the prisoner was arrested by Police and held in custody.

On or about September 26, 2023, police interviewed Kātoa in relation to the allegation against him. He was given his rights and he cooperated with the police by confessing to the offence.

On each count of falsification of accounts, and theft Justice Langi convicted and sentenced Kātoa to one year and six months imprisonment each to be served concurrently.

The last 15 months is suspended for a period of two years on the following conditions:

a. Mr. Katoa is not to commit any further offences punishable by imprisonment for a period of two years.

b. He is to contact the probation officer within 48 hours of being released from prison;

c. He is to complete the life skills program offered by the Probation office;

The accused is to serve a total of 3 months imprisonment.

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