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Former Superstore manager's sentencing postponed

By: Dave Baxter

Posted: 12/27/2018 10:00 AM

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A former Superstore employee who pled guilty to stealing more than $12,000 in store merchandise will have to wait a little longer to find out if he is headed to jail.

Crown prosecutor Kristee Logan argued in Steinbach court last Thursday that Joseph Papai, 48, should spend time in custody for a 10-month theft spree.

Between Aug. 26, 2016 and June 26, 2017, Papai stole $9,700 worth of high-priced electronics from the store, then returned the items and credited himself, while also stealing another $2,600 worth of smaller items.

Logan argued Papai, who was part of the store's management team, deserved a six-month jail sentence after breaking a level of trust with his former employer.

Defence lawyer Janel UnRuh countered that Papai, who has no criminal record, should instead be punished with a fine. She cited numerous examples of similar criminal cases where no jail time ordered.

Since his arrest Papai has dealt with a number of hardships, she said, not only losing his job at Superstore but losing another job when his new employer learned of his guilty plea. She noted that he was forced to sell his family home and most of his family's belongings to pay restitution for the theft, as well as pay off personal debts and loans. She explained her client struggled with addictions issues around the time of the thefts, while also dealing with undiagnosed anxiety and depression during the same period.

She added Papai’s reputation was "destroyed" in his hometown of Niverville when news articles were published about the case.

After some deliberation, Judge Julie Frederickson postponed her decision, indicating she would seek more information on the similar cases referenced by UnRuh before determining a sentence.

A new sentencing date is expected to be set when the case returns to court on Jan. 3.

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