Former abbot gets 468-year term for embezzlement

Former abbot gets 468-year term for embezzlement

Phra Ajarn Khom (screenshot)
Phra Ajarn Khom (screenshot)

A 468-year sentence has been handed down to a former abbot of Wat Pa Dhammakiri in Nakhon Ratchasima for his involvement in an embezzlement case involving almost 300 million baht.

The ruling was handed down by the Central Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases on Wednesday in response to lawsuits filed by prosecutors against Phra Ajarn Khom, the former abbot of Wat Pa Dhammakiri in Pak Chong district, and eight accomplices over their involvement in the case.

The former abbot, who is now known as Khom Kongkaeowas, is the first defendant.

The other eight are Wutthima Thaomor, the former abbot of the temple before Khom; Khom's sister, Juthathip Phubodiwarochuphan; his driver, Boonyasak Patarakosol; and five defrocked monks -- Boonsong Panpuwong, Bundit Yoicha, Nathapat Tangjaisanong, Boonluea Phothong, and Thanakrit Yotsurin.

The court found Khom colluded with the defrocked monks to embezzle the donations received by the temple.

He kept the money in his bank account, which only his sister was authorised to withdraw funds from. Money was withdrawn 76 times.

The former abbot ordered his sister to keep some of the cash at his residence, with police later seizing 51.4 million baht. Khom also ordered other ex-monks to hide some assets outside the temple.

Police later discovered 1,455 items including cash and assets worth 299.5 million baht. The court found him guilty on 78 counts -- with sentences of six years per count -- and handed him a 468-year sentence.

Wutthima was found guilty on 78 counts with a total jail term of 312 years. Juthathip was guilty on 77 counts with a 308-year jail term.

Under Thai law, the maximum time they can spend behind bars is 50 years. The other defendants' terms were cut from three to two years because they cooperated.

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