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    Nov 14, 2014

    Ex-principal jailed for stealing $40k from pre-schools

    A FORMER kindergarten principal was sentenced to three months in jail yesterday for misappropriating almost $40,000.

    Between September 2009 and October last year, Lee Ooi Chun used money collected at two PAP Community Foundation kindergarten centres in Ang Mo Kio to pay her gambling debts.

    She was sentenced after pleading guilty to two of six charges, with the rest being taken into consideration.

    Lee's job scope as principal of the kindergartens in Block 319, Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1, and later Block 301, Ang Mo Kio Street 31, included collecting and banking various fees into the foundation's account each month.

    But Lee, 60, pocketed the money, which included registration, insurance and uniform fees.

    She did not key in records of the collected sums in a bid to escape detection, but held on to acknowledgement receipts from the collections, a district court heard.

    Lee was found out following an internal audit in February, which uncovered cash shortages in the kindergartens' accounts.

    Pleading for leniency, defence lawyer Lee Ee Yang said his client had fully returned the $37,117.60 pocketed.

    She had committed the offences due to a gambling addiction that landed her in debt, and had also paid off most of the $50,000 she owed with her husband's help, said Mr Lee.

    The lawyer added that his client has two children, aged 29 and 33, and is seeking counselling for her gambling problem.

    District Judge Crystal Ong noted that the sum involved was large and had not been taken on the spur of the moment.

    A significant degree of trust had been placed in Lee, and others in similar positions needed to be deterred from committing such offences, the judge said.

    Lee is now a teacher at an enrichment centre.

    She could have been jailed for up to seven years and fined for each count of criminal breach of trust against her.