THE former head of the World Bodhrán Championships has been labelled a "pariah" in his own town by his solicitor after pleading guilty last Thursday to 27 counts of fraud.
Dan Cronin, 23 Kilcolman, Milltown, appeared before Killorglin District Court where he was accused of illegally securing almost €12,000 from the account of his former employer, William O'Shea.
Mr Cronin pleaded guilty to all charges which related to a total of nine false cheques but he claimed that the money had been used to pay bills incurred by the ill-fated festival.
Inspector Donal Ashe disputed this, stating that Mr Cronin in his original statement to gardai admitted to having bought furniture and clothes. Gardaí have accused Mr Cronin of using up to €5,000 of the cash for his personal use.
Among the cheques fraudulently cashed between August and October 2010 was a €120 cheque written out to the defendant but which Mr Cronin said he made out for his own expenses. Sitting TD Brendan Griffin was also named in the charges as one of several people "induced" by Mr Cronin to accept a cheque as genuine. The former publican was paid by a false cheque of €1,390 for beverages supplied to the festival. Others similarly listed in charge sheets include Alan O'connor, Alma's, J Murphy, AW Team and The Bodhrán Festival. AIB has since covered all payments and the bank has been reimbursed by Mr Cronin's family.
After all charges were read out, solicitor Pádraig O'connell said his client had co-operated 100 percent with gardaí, claiming that he was like a "modernday Robin Hood" as he had made no gain personally.
"He had total responsibility of what was a well-run and highly thought-of festival. The pressure came on to meet payments with respect to the organising of that festival and he gave commitments to people that they would be paid," the solicitor claimed.
Inspector Donal Ashe argued it was not a true reflection that bills incurred were all for the bodhrán festival. "He had the run of the house, he was not suspected originally," the inspector added. "If he was writing a cheque for a party and cashing it, that is a different ball game," Judge James O'Connor then commented, adding that it was the wrong time to tell "lies or half-truths".
Calling for a short adjournment to allow for discussion between the defendant and his solicitor, Mr Cronin was again asked if all or some of the money was used for his own purposes. "No your honour" came the defendant's reply.
The case was adjourned for further enquiries, with Judge O'Connor requesting that every cheque needed be followed up.
Mr Cronin has one previous conviction in 1995 for what was labelled in court "a similar offence", receiving a four-month suspended sentence and paying over €10,000 in compensation to the local GAA club.