Woman who traded in work vehicle to buy own car jailed over $160k fraud

Posted November 03, 2017 17:55:47

A Canberra woman who defrauded her employer $160,000, including trading in a work vehicle to buy herself a car, has been sentenced to three years in jail.

Trisha Mooney, 44, was the financial officer for the non-profit Transport Industries Skills Centre in Canberra.

She pleaded guilty to using her corporate credit card in hundreds of transactions to pay for personal expenses including food and telephone and electricity bills.

Mooney also used her position to make unauthorised payments to herself, and at one point traded in a car owned by the organisation, to purchase a vehicle for herself.

She then forged a loan agreement with the organisation, using the CEO’s electronic signature, which was only supposed to be used on emails.

The fraud was discovered when a new CEO was appointed and conducted a review of finances because the organisation had been struggling.

Chief Justice Helen Murrell noted the former CEO who appointed Mooney and trusted her was particularly upset by her behaviour.

“He is acutely embarrassed that the offender defrauded the organisation during his tenure as CEO,” she said.

The court also heard from general manager Denis Dobie, who told the court there had been a loss of staff morale and staff had become anxious and mistrustful of each other.

Chief Justice Murrell said each of the offences involved a significant breach of trust and it was “of concern that it continued, even when she knew of the harm”.

“She knew that the organisation’s financial performance was deteriorating and her criminal conduct could only contribute to that deterioration,” she said.

“The offences were not sophisticated, but they did not need to be sophisticated in order to avoid detection.

“When suspicions were aroused the offender attempted to conceal her misconduct, albeit in a clumsy manner.”

Chief Justice Murrell found the offences were motivated by a desire for personal gain, although there was no evidence she had been leading an extravagant lifestyle.

“Her attempts at concealment, and the total benefit that the offender gained, present a dismal picture of largely inexplicable dishonesty by a trusted employee, who held a position of significant responsibility,” she said.

Mooney will not be eligible for parole until May 2019.

Topics: courts-and-trials, fraud-and-corporate-crime, canberra-2600, act