Military cook admits to stealing credit card, cash from co-workers
A military cook pleaded guilty to theft and fraud Tuesday at a military court martial.
Cpl. Jeffrey Kroetsch was charged with stealing a MasterCard from one co-worker, which he used to buy $765.90 worth of goods; of stealing $40 from another co-worker’s change purse and then coming back to steal a quarter and two nickels left in it; stealing a pack of cigarettes and $4 in coins. The offences occurred in May 2016.
Stealing is a serious offence, presiding military judge Cmdr. Sandra Sukstorf said Tuesday.
Kroetsch’s troubles began in August 2014 when he injured his shoulder in a motorcycle accident, the court martial heard.
After shoulder surgery, the cook at the Edmonton Garrison Combined Mess spiralled into a dependence on alcohol, pain medication and opioids, the court martial heard.
His alcohol use exceeded 10 drinks a day, at least four days a week, and he mixed pain medication with alcohol.
Around the time of the thefts, he was drinking to the point of losing consciousness and heard “shadows calling his name,” the statement of charges said.
After the thefts, Kroetsch spent several weeks in rehab and therapy and has since been attending regular counselling sessions.
Kathleen Story, a civilian who has worked at the mess for about 10 years, had $40 taken from her change purse. The thief left behind a quarter and two nickels.
“I felt violated,” she testified Tuesday.
“He took every trust I had and threw it out the window.”
Kroetsch was also charged with coming back to steal the three remaining coins.
“To go back for a quarter and two nickels surprised me,” she said.
Defence lawyer Maj. A. GelinasProulx called Master Cpl. Richard Woodward, who was one of Kroetsch’s shift supervisors, to the stand.
The addiction changed his personality, and Kroetsch became belligerent, Woodward testified.
“A number of people refused to work beside him,” he said.
Since rehab, Kroetsch has been doing better, he said.
“He’s a great asset, and very knowledgeable as a cook,” Woodward said.
The court martial continues Wednesday.
I felt violated. He took every trust I had and threw it out the window.