Former abbot gets 468-year sentence in 300 million baht embezzlement case

Picture courtesy of Bangkok Post

The Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases sentenced a former abbot of Wat Pa Dhammakiri in Nakhon Ratchasima, to an overwhelming 468 years in prison. This decision was made yesterday, March 20, following lawsuits that accused Khom Kongkaeowas and eight others of being embroiled in an embezzlement case worth nearly 300 million baht (US$8.34 million).

Among the eight accomplices were Wutthima Thaomor, Khom’s predecessor as abbot, Juthathip Phubodiwarochuphan, Khom’s sister, and Boonyasak Patarakosol, his chauffeur. Five monks who had been defrocked – Boonsong Panpuwong, Bundit Yoicha, Nathapat Tangjaisanong, Boonluea Phothong, and Thanakrit Yotsurin – were also implicated in the case.

The court’s investigation found that Khom had conspired with the defrocked monks to siphon off funds from the temple’s donations. He then deposited the stolen money into his bank account, from which only his sister had the authority to withdraw funds. She did this 76 times.

Khom instructed his sister to store a portion of the embezzled money at his residence, where police eventually confiscated 51.4 million baht (US$1.4 million). He also commanded his fellow former monks to conceal some assets outside the temple. All in all, law enforcement unearthed 1,455 items counting cash and assets worth 299.5 million baht (US$ 8.3 million).

The court pronounced Khom guilty on 78 charges, with each one carrying a jail term of six years. Hence, he received a cumulative sentence of 468 years. Wutthima was found guilty on 78 counts, amassing a total jail term of 312 years, while Juthathip was found guilty on 77 counts, resulting in a 308-year sentence, reported Bangkok Post.

It is important to note that according to Thai law, the maximum duration they can serve in prison is 50 years. The sentences of the other defendants were reduced from three to two years due to their cooperation in the case.

In related news, Police apprehended a 51 year old woman for her involvement in a multifaceted criminal enterprise that included document forgery, job application fraud, and a significant embezzlement scandal.

Crime NewsThailand News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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