THE former manager of a Trincity Mall clothing store has been ordered to repay $100,000 which represents the sum of what she admitted to stealing from her former employer.
The director of Suite 16, the clothing store which has three other branches throughout Trinidad, was also advised to take any enforcement avenue available to recover the money from Pramelia Hardeen to send a message that “stealing cannot be tolerated.”
The order was made by Justice Frank Seepersad on Wednesday.
Testifying at the brief virtual trial were Suite 16’s general manager Kimberly Johnson and the company’s director Kathrina Haddad. Hardeen also testified in her defence and in support of her counterclaim which she lost.
In ordering her to repay the money, Seepersad said dishonesty, accompanied by unaccountability, fueled continued dishonesty.
“At some point in time, there can be no room for sympathy.”
He said Hardeen abused her managerial authority and was lucky her former employer chose not to pursue criminal charges against her, but maintained she will be held accountable in the civil courts.
Seepersad said Hardeen converted her “bread and butter into croissants and eclairs,” as she was accused of converting the appropriated goods and cash for her own benefit.
Suite 16 pursued the civil debt collection claim against Hardeen after she failed to keep her part of a deal which she struck for her to pay back $100,000 for the items she stole from the store.
In evidence, Johnson and Haddad said they had reason to believe Hardeen was stealing from the inventory. A report was made to the police who visited the store on October 6, 2017, and questioned Hardeen.
She admitted she took items and money, even using a falsified receipt book and tampering with the electronic payment machines so that cash receipts could be made out to customers.
When the police officers said they were going to arrest her, Haddad instead suggested Hardeen reimburse the company. Hardeen signed a promissory note to repay $100,000. The company said Hardeen then abandoned the job, although she claimed she thought she was fired.
Suite 16’s lawsuit said since then, she has not paid a cent or offered any reasonable excuse for not doing so.
In her counterclaim, Hardeen denied stealing anything and said the promissory note was signed by her through force, trickery and undue influence. She also accused Haddad of being in league with the police to threaten her. She sought compensation for undue influence and the distress she endured when she was questioned by the police.
In his ruling, Seepersad rejected Hardeen’s contention of a conspiracy and her being forced to sign the promissory note, saying there were reasonable grounds to suspect she was engaged in improper activity.
Suite 16 was represented by attorney Naveen Maraj and Laurissa Hosein while Hardeen was represented by attorney Taradath Singh.