TWO Hongkong Ferry employees who tampered with a toll machine and stole $180,000 in fares during an eight-month period were sent to jail yesterday. Deputy Judge Leung jailed supervisor Lau Hok-kwong, 39, and pier assistant Leung Shek-tai, 40, for 15 months and 12 months respectively. A third person, cleaner Choi Woon-ming, 47, was sentenced to 12 months' jail, suspended for three years. They all pleaded guilty to a count each of conspiracy to steal and theft. Passing sentence in the District Court, Deputy Judge Leung said: ''This is a case of breach of trust. It is part of your duty to collect and take care of toll money. Instead, you stole from it.'' He said the court took a serious view of those who stole money systematically from a public utility company. If the situation was left unchecked, he said, it would spread. Although he accepted the defence solicitor's submission that money was given to Choi to make her keep quiet, Deputy Judge Leung said the offence would not have lasted so long without her assistance. In mitigation, Mr Yaddy Cheung, for the defendants, said: ''These are serious charges but they are not the worst of their kind.'' He said the method which his clients had adopted was not sophisticated. The defendants had waived their rights to retirement benefits and long-service payments from the company, in restitution. The court heard a balance of about $50,000 was also paid to the company. Both Lau and Leung have new jobs, while Choi is unemployed. None of the defendants had previous criminal convictions. The court heard the three were employed by the Hongkong Ferry (Holdings) Company Ltd to work at the Kowloon City Ferry Pier. A complaint was lodged that passengers were directed to use the manual toll machine because the automatic slots were sealed with adhesive tape. The ICAC monitored the situation and found Lau had tampered with the meter readings of the manual toll machine. On October 1 last year, several ICAC officers posed as customers and passed through the manual machine using marked $100 banknotes. Upon their arrest, two marked $100 notes were found on Lau and Leung. Leung and Choi admitted they had pocketed $81,000 and $24,000 respectively over the period. Lau said he could not recollect the total sum he had stolen.