Supermarket brothers guilty of electricity theft

PHILIPSBURG--Brothers Johnny (41) and Roberto Sang (43) both received suspended sentences with community service Wednesday, for involvement in electricity theft from utility company GEBE by tampering with the meter of their family supermarket.

 
The brothers, who were not present Wednesday, were both sentenced according to the Prosecutor's demand to one year suspended, on two years' probation. Johnny Sang will also have to perform 240 hours of community service, while Roberto will have to do 180 hours.
 
The amounts vary, because in Johnny's case it was found proven he had tampered with the family supermarket's electricity meter between December 1, 2009 and June 26, 2012.
 
The court found it legally and convincingly proven that Roberto Sang had not been directly involved in the crime and had only been aware of the scam until three months later, from March 1, 2010.
 
The court case is the result of a joint investigation launched in May 2012, by power and water utility N.V. GEBE, the Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Development, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI and the Police Force in connection with electricity theft.
 
GEBE had filed several complaints and a number of suspects were arrested, questioned and released pending further investigation. The reports on the investigations were submitted to the Prosecutor's Office, which had summoned the two brothers to appear in Court.
 
Several other persons have in the meantime also been tried and sentenced on similar charges.
The joint action involving GEBE, which is responsible for the production and distribution of electricity, the Police and VROMI stemmed from a decision taken by GEBE to take action against persons and businesses found tampering illegally with the electricity meters in some form or another, and disrupting the meters from registering the correct amount of electricity being used by meter holders.
Johnny Sang confessed he had accepted the offer of former GEBE worker J.J.B., who had come to the supermarket at the end of 2009. The man had said he was able to lower the store's electricity consumption by adjusting the readings on the meter.
 
Sang said he had paid the man the requested US $1,000, after which the meter was adjusted. He confessed to Judge Tamara Tijhuis that he knew the operation was illegal.
 
The scam resulted in GEBE being defrauded to the amount of NAf. 36,000 in unpaid electricity. It was established that the supermarket's average electricity consumption of 4,000 kilowatts per month in 2009, suddenly decreased to 2,000 kilowatts per month from December 2009.
 
Roberto Sang, who is responsible for the supermarket's administration, said he had noticed in March 2010, that the electricity consumption had been significantly lower than before. His brother had told him that the meter was adjusted, after which he had asked his brother to remedy the situation, but had never checked if this had really happened.
 
GEBE established in June 2012, that the seal on the meter had been broken and that the meter had been tampered with. The brothers told the court that they had come to a settlement with GEBE to pay damages. They said they had already paid three instalments to the total amount of US $13,000.
 
(The Daily Herald)

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