We present details of three cases in Monaco involving drunk driving, insulting of an official, and stealing from an employer.
How insults may lead you to pay a fine
A woman faces a € 1,000 fine for insulting an assistant at the Post Office.
Is it accepted that everyone can freely express their opinion of a person, and does this honesty has its limits. If they are out of order, insults can lead to an offender incurring a penalty. It was precisely a breach of contempt that was blamed on a 37-year-old woman from Beausoleil, single and unemployed, summoned before the Criminal Court.
On 30 September, she had insulted an assistant at the Post Office following the assistant’s refusal to open an account at the Postal Bank in the Principality. The Judge Jérôme Fougeras Lavergnolle painted a picture of the situation. The client wanted to open an account. After processing the information in her possession, the administrative assistant informed her of the impossibility of the procedure due to complications. This lady was forbidden from banking! Then the insults began.
“I did not understand this unwarranted and undeserved reaction,” said the assistant. “I just asked her to leave my office. After reflection, I believe that this person associated my decision with the fact that she was wearing a burka. There was no rhyme or reason to this.” Then the magistrate invited the accused to explain herself. She admitted to having uttered the insult in a low voice at the moment of her departure.
“I spoke before thinking. I wasn’t thinking straight, as I had just got out of hospital. I was unaware of the bank ban.” For the lawyer for the Post, Frédéric Garcia, of the Nice Bar, “the facts are simple, recognised and established. Does she have a medical problem or was she behaving badly? This was verbal abuse from a person claiming to be a victim due to her religion. In fact, she insulted a woman she suspected of racism. We request the payment of 5,000 euros for moral injury and 2,000 for legal costs.”
The prosecutor Cyrielle Colle did not shy away from evoking the “gratuitousness of disrespect that has become part of everyday life. One should not insult an employee of the Post just for doing her job. This lack of civility must be penalised. There is no evidence that the accused was being persecuted. A 1,000 euro fine is an adapted penalty”. The defence raised some anomalies. “The complainant is not a public official,” argued Arnaud Cheynut in his plea. “My client must be sympathised with. She had a bad moment and lost control of her words, and she apologised. What proof is there to claim 7,000 euros of damage without the slightest justification?” The case was put under advisement.
How you should not celebrate World Women’s Day
The intention was commendable: to celebrate World Women’s Day! But when the drinking overshadows the commemoration of the event, trouble soon follows. This was the situation told to the criminal court, with the CEO of a large international laboratory of diet products in handcuffs. He appeared before the court for drunk driving, followed by insults and injuries towards agents of the public security force. The judges sentenced the accused to two months imprisonment and two fines of 800 and 500 euros.
Thus, last Thursday, this Belgian resident struck a planter near the Eucalyptus nursery on the Avenue des Castelans, in Fontvieille, triggering the airbags of his Porsche Cayenne. The rescue services rushed to the scene. The result of the crash was more fear than harm, but the driver was drunk and showed an alcohol level of 0.85 mg/l. To be safe, the officers went in the ambulance with the passenger.
At that moment, he rebelled and started kicking and lashing out. The police had to use force to control him. At the CHPG, he was extremely insolent. Once he sobered up, the entrepreneur denied the insults and violence. He did admit, however, all the charges before the Attorney General. “This is not your first conviction,” Judge Florestan Bellinzona said at the hearing. “This is the third time and still for drunk driving and insults. Do you have problems with authorities?” The guilty party responded no and apologised for having had such an attitude towards the policemen present in the courtroom. He was calm, poised and his remarks were moderate. It is hard to believe this person who appeared so respectful could have exhibited the careless behaviour described earlier by the witnesses.
The Counsel for Civil Parties, Hervé Campana emphasised the deferential treatment of the two agents “in order to take this person to the hospital without the binding force of the handcuffs. Thanks to their professionalism, the safety of the accused was guaranteed. Nevertheless, the injuries and insults deserve reparation. We claim the payment of 800 euros and 1,000 euros respectively.
The accumulation of offenses and references to the criminal record was concerning to Attorney General Jacques Dorémieux. “The intellectual level of the accused should lead him to a certain level of restraint. A sentence of two months’ imprisonment and a fine of 2,000 euros will be required.”
The defence blamed stress and anxiety for his client’s reaction. “This doctor has psychological problems,” says Pierre-Anne Noghès-du-Monceau. “An injunction for care would be welcome. I hope for your clemency, because prison would be problematic for this leader of a company that manages about a hundred scientists and employees.” The court will prefer to follow the requisitions of the public prosecutor. Without the fine! The lawyer is considering a possible appeal.
How a business can loose money because of its employees
Three young people, two female and one male, learned that stealing from their employer can be costly! The trio, although very careless and appearing above suspicion, appeared before the criminal court for breach of trust. All were sentenced to the same penalty, three months of imprisonment suspended, for having stolen from the cash register of a caterer, A Roca, at the Condamine market, and then dividing up the takings of 5,640 €. The sense of impunity seemed to link the three employees, who had been hired for several months. A drop in turnover attracted the attention of the two partners who run the gastronomic establishment. The missing money had become recurring and a significant amount. Anxious not to falsely accuse employees of the establishment, the managers installed a surveillance camera above the cash drawer. From the first day of “filming”, the video showed both waitresses and the cook taking money in the afternoon. The next day, 220 € was missing. Then, dishes were served, but the monetary counterpart was always kept by the thieves. Small transactions were done off the books.
When questioned by the police, the three defendants gave an identical version of the story: the authorisation of compensation. But in custody, they admitted to taking money from the register. They stole on average 120 € to 150 € each day. It was impossible to have a more precise estimate in the absence of the civil party.
When Judge Florestan Bellinzona questioned the perpetrators, they did not feel at fault: “There was an internal agreement to have money under the table, off the record.” The magistrate replied: “The damage has nevertheless been quantified over two months at 5,640 €. And again, it’s the minimum recognised. You served fifteen coffees a day. It had become so usual to use the cash that you could no longer quantify the sums. And you, the cook, you did not have access, but you were able to take 40 € per day…”
Any remorse? Prosecutor Alexia Brianti summarised the defendants’ examination of conscience. “Attempts at justification, but few regrets! They would have continued their stealing if their employers had not responded. To avoid being caught, each one put the stolen money in the bag of the other. The decrease in turnover exceeded €6,000 per month. We are way beyond the amounts claimed. The ‘under the table’ argument does not justify stealing from the register. Theft of an employer is a crime punishable by five to ten years in prison. The representative of the public prosecutor’s office will opt for a suspended sentence, but the term should not be less than five months.” For José-Marie Bertozzi of the Nice Bar, “my clients have brought justice to themselves through their clumsy behaviour! But if this practice of ‘under the table’ transactions, quite typical on the Cote d’Azur to pay less in taxes, has a certain economic logic, where is the offense? All three will be fired, but not for stealing! A young woman for rude behaviour with clients. The other did not meet the working standards. The cook for making bad food! Their pay will never be settled. This reimburses the damage. We ask for a light sentence. They are not bandits.”
These three cases in Monaco have come to a resolution and future cases can be read about in the next edition of our Monaco criminal news.