Airport finance manager jailed for theft

Case highlights the risk for organizations that put a single person in charge of their cash

Airport finance manager jailed for theft

The finance manager for Windsor Airport in Ontario has been sentenced to 60 days in prison for theft over a period of 32 months, highlighting firms’ vulnerabilities when one person is solely responsible for the collection, counting and depositing of cash. 

Jamie Grabijas admitted to taking $40,000, even as an airport audit showed more than 10 times that amount had disappeared between April 2, 2013, and December 31, 2015. Windsor Police fraud investigators think she skimmed nearly $220,000.

The money was part of cash collections from parking and from the airport café. She helped herself to cash from a safe in her office, thinking she could pay it back later, but it spiralled out of control, the Windsor Star reported.

Her lawyer, however, insisted other airport employees had access to the safe. “She did not have exclusive opportunity,” Elizabeth Craig told the Ontario Court of Justice.

In February 2016, when finance director Jim McCormack started asking questions about the cash, Grabijas was upfront with her boss.

“I can tell you right now it won’t reconcile,” she told him. “The money you are looking for – I probably did something.” 

She packed her things, gave back her keys, and left.

Craig said her client was under tremendous financial pressure at home, supporting her husband and son.

“It’s not like she used the money for gambling or extravagant vacations or expensive cars,” the lawyer said.

Grabijas’ civil lawyer negotiated with the airport on how she could return the money she took. She cashed her retirement savings and sold her home to pay nearly $65,000. The airport, which claimed the $400,000 in theft insurance, has agreed not to come after Grabijas for more money.

At her sentencing, Justice Lloyd Dean told Grabijas she had succumbed to “a temptation that was right in front of you”, and in doing so, had only compounded her money troubles.

 

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