Courts

Thursday 31 July 2014

Gambling addict (74) defrauded restaurant of €135,000

Jessica Magee

Published 04/02/2014|02:30

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John Carlos. Collins Courts

A former schoolteacher who led a "remarkably ordinary life" until he became addicted to online poker in his sixties is to be sentenced later for defrauding an Eddie Rockets restaurant of €135,000.

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John Carlos (74), who was also a part-time accountant, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to forging signatures on cheques, altering amounts on cheques and stealing money from his former employer, Eddie Rockets franchise owner Peter Fortune, on dates between 2005 and 2008.

The court heard that Carlos, with an address at Bolands Court, Gort, Co Galway, had been a highly respected retired school teacher and accountant in Bray, Co Wicklow, until he became a "hopeless and deeply addicted gambler", leaving his family life and reputation in ruins.

Garda Nevin McCormick told the court that Carlos had been doing some accountancy work for Eddie Rockets' fast food chain in the late 1990s.

Mr Fortune, who had been operating a franchise of Eddie Rockets in Stillorgan, decided to hire an accountant and asked Carlos, whom he had known for over 30 years.

Some time in 2001 or 2002, Carlos suggested that he become a cheque signatory, and Mr Fortune agreed as he trusted him.

BONUSES

Carlos was paid €250 a week cash in hand plus the use of a phone and some cash bonuses.

In September 2008, Mr Fortune got a letter from Revenue seeking a tax audit.

Mr Fortune hired an external firm of auditors who discovered that a large amount of suspicious cheques had been signed between 2005 and 2008.

Carlos' bank account showed numerous amounts going to the Paddy Power online poker website.

In April 2011, Carlos called in voluntarily to Blackrock garda station and admitted defrauding his employer via dozens of cheques, totalling €135,000.

He told gardai that he had lost about €150,000 gambling and had run into considerable debt. He said what he had done was appalling but that he could not afford to repay the money.

Judge Mary Ellen Ring expressed concern that Carlos had only done "limited work" to address his gambling addiction, even though she noted he was unlikely to reoffend.

Carlos was remanded on bail for sentencing on June 5 this year.

Irish Independent

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