THE COURT REPORT – June 23rd. 2021

The Case of: $137,000.00 – Thousand Dollar nightmare

Juan Angel Munoz, former employee wins case twice before the court- Not guilty in criminal theft case and no fine order in civil says CJ, Justice Michelle Arana!

by Anita Nembhard/Flowers
Weds. June 23, 2021

A Belize City man is free of all charges after he was vindicated not once but twice in separate cases he was subjected to before the Supreme Court.

Juan Angel Munoz, a former employee of Magil’s Meixcan Products Co Ltd., and then acting Manager being responsible for the deposit of monies, account management and other duties assigned to him from time to time.

But an audit back in October, 2010, revealed that monies were missing from sales for the period June to October 2010 in the amount of $137,916.46.
As a result, Munoz was charged criminally with theft.

It did not ended there for Munoz, as noted in the civil suit claim, Magil’s dismissed Munoz from his employment as Manager, but before his dismissal, Munoz agreed to Magil’s withholding $137,916,46 and he promised to make payments to the company, Magil’s also had filed criminal action against Munoz.

But Munoz was later vindicated for theft in a Supreme Court trial before Justice, Lucas where before a jury of nine of his peers, he was found not guilty.

And although he was found not guilty he was taken to a civil court, since Mr. Munoz had failed to make payments to Magil’s. This present civil claim before this court is a claim for the sum of $137, 916. 46, or in the alternative damages plus interest and costs.

That claim too fell short of proving him liable and Magils attempt to recover the large sum of money they believed he had stolen despite being vindicated in the criminal.

Munoz is a free man from all charges criminally and through the civil claim brought against him.

Chief Justice, Madam Michelle Arana in a ruling handed down two days ago, Monday, June 21, 2021, in the presence of Munoz and his attorney, he got the good news of not being liable in the civil court hence he is now a free man and does not have to pay back any money to his former boss.

During the civil claim, he issue at hand in determining if Magil’s Mexican Products was entitled to recover the sum of $137,916,46 or damages in the alternative from Juan Angel Munoz?

The court heard from the evidence coming from the claimant (Munoz’s former boss) who called two witnesses to prove its claim but they were not strong enough in the civil trial in proving their claim.

First witness was Ms, Claudia Barboza. She testified that as Manager of Magil’s for past eight years, she was employed as a Manager at Munoz department stores, “Caye Supplies” and that he (Munoz) was responsible for the overall management of the store which included sales and marketing, weekly balancing of sales, deposition, payroll and monthly preparation of general sales tax, social security, and business tax forms.

Ms, Barboza said that she was instructed by her employer, Magils, to conduct an audit of Caye Supplies because cheques received for payment of goods were taking too long to clear. Barboza said Munoz was present when she was extracting the reports from his computer for the audit and he advised her that he would assist her by informing her what monies were missing and that is when according to Barboza she discovered that the sum of $137,966.46 was missing.

Ms. Barboza set out the method she used in conducting this audit.She retrieved the monthly master report prepared by Angel Munoz that is generated from a computer report of the daily sales.

The master report comprised of monies that were received from customers in the form of cheques, credit card payments, cash etc., and paid in to the respective cashier(s). At the end of the business day, Mr. Munoz would retrieve the monies paid from the registers and he was responsible to input the said information into the system and deposit the sums at the bank.

From the master report, Ms. Barboza examined all the monies actually received then proceeded to conduct a comparison with the bank statements and deposit books. This is when she found out about the missing monies.

According to Ms. Barboza any monies taken from the cash register for Magil’s miscellaneous expenses would have had a cash voucher attached and duly signed by the relevant personnel with the authorized charge.T

his was in order for management to have a clear understanding of funds received daily and what was utilized for expenses by management.

She also states that during the audit, Mr. Munoz gave her access to a desk drawer that had been locked which contained a bundle of cheques that were not deposited; it is her evidence that Mr. Munoz moved quickly to deposit those cheques as they were not sure whether or not the cheques had become stale dated.
The second witness for the claim came from that of Cindy Staines who testified that she is part owner of the Claimant’s Company. Ms. Staines reiterated the evidence already given by Ms. Barboza.

She described the role of Mr. Munoz as Manager of Caye Supplies.She described the audit conducted by Ms. Barboza in identical terms.She also spoke of the hidden drawer containing cheques which had not been deposited by Mr. Munoz.

In coming to a decision to dismiss the claim, Chief Justice, Michelle Arana thanked both Counsel for their submissions in this matter and noted “that after her reviewed of all the evidence, oral and written, as well as the written submissions made on behalf of the parties.I must state that I agree completely with the legal submissions made by Mr. Sylvestre on behalf of the Defendant in this matter.

It is quite clear that there is not one scintilla of evidence that there was any promise by the Defendant to pay any money to the Claimant, therefore, there is no contract between the Claimant and the Defendant.

In these circumstances, I find that the Claimant has failed to prove its case on a balance of probabilities.

In conclusion, Chief Justice, Arana dismissed the case and added that costs is to be awarded to the Defendant to be agreed or assessed.