Woman defrauded company of €475,000 to pay for car, holidays
A WOMAN who defrauded her employer of €475,000 to buy a house, a luxury car and take expensive foreign holidays escaped jail yesterday.
Lorraine Gregory (37) forged company cheques to take the cash over a three-year period.
Gregory, of Forest View, Wheaton Hall, Drogheda, pleaded guilty to 23 sample charges of theft and forgery on dates unknown between August 2001 and March 2004 at telecommunications company Off Air Electronics Ltd in Tallaght, Dublin.
Judge Patricia Ryan noted the company was taking civil proceedings against Gregory and Bank of Ireland to recoup the rest of the money owed.
Gregory has repaid €307,200 of the money and is trying to repay the rest at €400 a month. Judge Ryan imposed a term of six years, suspended for four years.
The court previously heard company director Donal Keys entrusted Gregory to compile monthly bank reconciliations.
Detective Sergeant Pascal Walsh told the court in early 2004 Mr Keys became concerned when he noticed two cheques cashed out of sequence with the normal rotation of payments.
Bank of Ireland told Mr Keys it would forward him these cheques after he contacted it, querying the entries. In April 2004, Mr Keys identified another two cheques cashed out of sequence.
When he contacted Bank of Ireland for further clarification, the bank informed him that it had uncovered a further five cheques cashed outside of the usual time frame.
Mr Keys enlisted the help of the defendant in deciphering the cause of the out-of-sequence cheques.
Mr Keys told gardai he became suspicious when Gregory said she identified the payments as cheques sent to the Collector General and a freight company.
Det Sgt Walsh said a subsequent search of the premises by Mr Keys revealed no corresponding VAT invoices to the payments Gregory had supposedly identified.
When Mr Keys made further attempts to have the offending cheques couriered to him from Bank of Ireland, Gregory intercepted them.
Gregory then showed Mr Keys a series of forged cheques and told him these correlated to the payments.
When Mr Keys voiced his scepticism, Gregory confessed. She later signed a statement to the effect that she had forged the signatures of the directors of Off Air Electronics Ltd on stolen company cheques to the value of €170,000.
She also confessed to obtaining a contract from her employers to purchase a tanning salon to the value of €140,000 under false pretences. Gregory had already lodged €70,000 with her employer to fund the purchase of the property.
Gregory's father agreed to pay €20,000 to the Keys family in a lump sum and a further €300,000 by way of recompense for his daughter's fraud.