The Courier-Mail

Stolen for­tune spent on male es­corts

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A HO­TEL man­ager who em­bez­zled al­most $700,000 to em­bark on erotic fan­tasies with male es­corts has been jailed for 4½ years.

Judge Irene Law­son de­scribed Mel­bourne man Gary Robert John­son’s brazen thefts from Radis­son Ho­tels as an in­ex­cus­able ex­am­ple of whitecol­lar crime.

She said John­son, 57, stole $681,000 over seven years to fund a “Wal­ter Mitty”-type lifestyle. The dad-of-two was work­ing as a fi­nan­cial con­trol- ler for Radis­son Ho­tels when in 2007 he started trans­fer­ring cash into his own bank ac­count.

He used the money to fi­nance a se­cret fan­tasy world of male es­corts, fancy din­ners, per­sonal train­ing and in­ti­mate get­aways. One es­cort was paid $199,000 for ser­vices, di­rectly from the ho­tel’s ac­counts, while John­son also used $15,000 to throw him­self a 50th birth­day bash.

An au­dit of the ho­tel’s ac­counts de­tected the thefts in 2014, spark­ing a civil ac­tion in which the ho­tel re­cov­ered $100,000 from John­son, be­fore he was charged with more than 300 crim­i­nal of­fences.

Within months of him be­ing charged, John­son’s wife died, the court heard, from an ill­ness sparked by the stress and anx­i­ety brought on by the rev­e­la­tion of her hus­band’s of­fend­ing.

Judge Law­son said noth­ing but a prison sen­tence would be just pun­ish­ment for his crime. John­son will be el­i­gi­ble for pa­role af­ter 2½ years.

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