Elderly realtor avoids jail time for $65k theft

| 23/08/2018 | 39 Comments
Cayman News Service, Cayman Islands real estate

Toni Paolini

(CNS): A real estate agent who stole cash from two of his clients has dodged a custodial sentence after a judge suspended the two-year prison term he imposed on Wednesday for two convictions of theft. Antonio Paolini, who is 79 years old and in poor health, stole around $51,000 from one client and about CI$14,000 from another after he co-mingled deposits for property purchases at a time when his business, Cayman Real Estate, was in trouble. Justice Philip St John-Stevens said the case had “many features of compelling mitigation” as Paolini had not set out to steal in a case that was somewhere between negligence and dishonesty.

The judge pointed out that until this course of offending Paolini had reached his late 70s “without so much as a parking ticket”.  He had worked hard all of his life and had also contributed to the community, especially the local chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Paolini came to the Cayman Islands in 1974 as a qualified computer technician, a rare skill in the Cayman Islands in those days, and trained many people, the court heard. He worked in the private sector and government before setting up his real estate business after Hurricane Ivan.

The business did very well for several years, but soon after moving to more expensive premises the slump in the economy caught up with him and things began to go wrong. The first theft happened after a catalog of events led to a significant delay in a potential sale, and when it was time for it to go through Paolini had already spent the cash. When the victim trying to buy the land asked for her deposit back, it was gone.

Paolini created a loan agreement to pay it back and made several payments on it, but when the full amount was due he was unable to pay and was eventually arrested and charged. While on bail he used another client’s cash in an effort to get the business back on track but was unable to do so and found himself in the same position, unable to return the money to the client.

Despite admitting taking the money, Paolini pleaded not guilty to theft, maintaining that he did not steal the money because he never intended to deprive the people involved permanently, but because he did not keep an escrow account, the cash going in and out of his business was never distinguished.

With unsustainable overheads and no sales going through, he found himself using the money to keep the lights on and pay staff. During the second trial, after giving evidence Paolini realised that as far as the law was concerned, regardless of his lack of intention, he had effectively stolen the money and came clean before the trial concluded.

The judge said that during the trial Paolini cut a “sad and broken figure as he realised his dishonesty”; he was not the sort of criminal who was living an extravagant life on his ill-gotten gains but someone who mistakenly co-mingled funds in an effort to keep his business afloat.

As he handed down the jail term and then suspended the sentence, the judge said there were few aggravating factors, largely that Paolini committed the second theft while on bail, but he said the impact of the crime had been harmful to his victims. Paolini’s first victim worked as a helper and the money he used was her life savings.

Since his arrest, Paolini has also lost everything, including his home and his business. He confirmed to the court that he was still trying to find a way to pay back the two victims, and a compensation hearing has been set for early next year to give the aging realtor time to work out a way to do that.

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Category: Courts, Crime

Comments (39)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    So they just jailed an ex-civil worker Caymanian woman for stealing $18,000 but he walks free? I don’t understand.

  2. Anonymous says:

    He should have been giving jail time so that it might stop him from thinking about doing this to someone else again!

  3. Anonymous says:

    If he was a generational Caymanian he would have gone for a jury trial and probably would have been acquitted.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps the Government should consider a Law whereby anyone taking a client’s money to hold for any reason – buy land, pay immigration fee, etc. – has to put it in escrow? This will officially set the bar of what society’s expectation is. And reduce the ‘incompetent comingling’ excuse.

  5. Jotnar says:

    Passing over the suspension, how on earth can the sentencing on two entirely separate instances of dishonesty – one in fact occurred when in bail for the other – ever be concurrent? If I rob a bank, get arrested then rob another bank no one would seriously suggest the two robberies were part of the same offence.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not involved much in the criminal justice system are you? Keeping your University of Made Up Stuff opinions to yourself, only there will they have a worthy audience.

    • West Bay PremierWk0 says:

      Poor guy he went to the webwatson college .

  6. Elvis says:

    Ok I got it now….. steal money in your 60s and your off the hook

  7. Anonymous says:

    Can’t these people appeal this case. Is there any lawyer out there who would help them out?

  8. Anonymous says:

    A cartel member being dishonest?! Shock. Some of the practises of this self-governing group are unreal. My personal favourite is when 2 cartel members are involved in a deal..one for the buyer and one for the seller. The buyer always gets shafted because their agent has no duty of care to them and doesnt want a low sale price because they have to split the commission.

    My advice, if you have a nice home, in this market, stick it on Ecay and it will sell itself and you dont have to give 7% away.

  9. Anonymous says:

    This is crap. How is he allowed to swindle two people, express remorse and go free? Have the victims received anything? Shouldn’t they have been reimbursed via the sale of the house?

  10. Anonymous says:

    This is bologna! If Toni Paolini was Caymanian he’d be in Northward regardless of age and health!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Pure Greed. Nothing more than GREED!!!! No business doing a business that you can not run. Have him pay back monies owed and then deport his a**.

  12. AlanP says:

    Interesting. That lady who had a joint account with her bf, therefore legally not stealing, got some long prison time.

  13. anonymous says:

    Local, you are of course racist. To take a leaf out of your book, what is the colour given in the description of just about every suspect in hold ups, shootings, burglaries and most other crimes of violence.The nature of these violent crimes demands stricter sentencing guidelines.

  14. Anonymous says:

    He put it all in the same pot. If he paid himself any amount out of that pot, how is that not these people’s money? SMH. Being a nice old guy is not much defense. He should do time.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Wow. The judgement should have been repay the stolen fund with interest and avoid jail time. I bet you he will find the money.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Good. Keep up the good work sir. You have been cleared to do more crimes on this beautiful rock.

  17. Anonymous says:

    He is a very nice man who thought he could break into the real estate business but CIREBA haunted him till he broke.

  18. Anonymous says:

    33 and a 1/3???

  19. Anonymous says:

    So much corruption in the private sector. Now that the Civil Service has cleaned house let’s hope the private sector does the same. Old people ripping people off. Hope he gets deported.

    • anonymous says:

      7.10am what gives you the strange idea that the Civil Service have cleaned house?, now that we have a meaningful anti-corruption team, just wait and see who else gets caught.

  20. Anonymous says:


    So the system fighting to lock away the local youths only…

    • Anonymous says:

      The local youths in question represent decades of risk to the safety of good moral citizens. Locking them up is far more justified.

      • Anonymous says:

        Sicko. Who is the future?

        • Anonymous says:

          The honest and law abiding are the future. The criminals hamper the future, at least until their testosterone levels have depleted sufficiently to materially reduce their chances of recidivism.

  21. Local says:

    If he was a black Caymanian or Jamaican the outcome would be very different. This is further proof of the double standards in the criminal justice system in Cayman. Complete BS!

    • Anonymous says:

      You are so right. Just the other day I was thinking the judges aren’t taking sob stories anymore for stealing and other criminal offences and now look here, I was wrong. Really pathetic actually.

    • Anonymous says:

      Locals with police records for petty crimes can’t get jobs, but don’t be surprised, he will more than likely get in the RCIPS.

    • Anonymous says:

      you said it bobo if it was a caymanian they would have lost him in jail

    • Anonymous says:

      What utter horsesh*t. Wasnt there a Caymanian who stole funds from someone she was assisting with their permit application. Didnt she get off after claiming she was crap at her job?! Some local posters on here are just sad, bitter and xenophobic.

    • Anonymous says:

      If he was a generational Caymanian he would have gone for a jury trial and probably would have been acquitted.

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