Char­ity worker faces prison

41-year-old woman stole $4000 from em­ployer

Kapi-Mana News - - COURT -

Toni Lor­raine Gar­dener faces up to seven years in prison for steal­ing $ 4000 from Streets Ahead 237, a Wai­tan­girua char­ity help­ing at-risk youth.

The 41-year-old was con­victed in Porirua Dis­trict Court last Tues­day of one count of dis­hon­estly us­ing a doc­u­ment for pe­cu­niary ad­van­tage.

Gar­dener, also known as Toni Lor­raine Bates, Toni Lor­raine Spiro and An­toinette Lor­raine Joyce Gar­dener, ap­peared frail in the dock, sit­ting in­stead of stand­ing be­fore the judge and need­ing two peo­ple to help her walk.

She would be sen­tenced on De­cem­ber 17, Judge Bill Hast­ings said.

Gar­dener was hired as Streets Ahead’s busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tor on Fe­bru­ary 13, 2012.

Her job was to as­sist with pay­ing staff wages, petty cash, tax­a­tion and the day-to-day run­ning costs of the trust, po­lice prose­cu­tor Paul Macky said.

On April 30, Gar­dener was is­sued with a Ki­wibank debit card.

A month later she was pro­moted to busi­ness man­ager, re­plac­ing Shane Laulu.

Be­tween May 2012 and Fe­bru­ary 2013, Gar­dener stole $4000, much of it with­drawn from ATMs us­ing the trust’s debit card.

On July 25, she with­drew $700 from the Porirua post of­fice ATM.

At 3.30am the next morn­ing, she trav­elled from her Pa­pakowhai home to the same ATM and with­drew $800, then flew to Syd­ney for a fam­ily wed­ding.

While in Aus­tralia she spent $657.46 on the work debit card, hir­ing a car.

In late Jan­uary 2013, Gar­dener con­fessed her fraud to Streets Ahead chief ex­ec­u­tive Wayne Poutoa, telling him she had taken about $4000 for food.

Days later the pair went to the bank about a staff wages prob­lem, but Gar­dener took off, tex­ting Poutoa,‘‘ I’ve walked home, no need for me niw [sic]’’.

‘‘As a re­sult of the de­fen­dant’s ac­tions, Streets Ahead 237 went into fi­nan­cial trou­ble and has had to lay off three full­time staff mem­bers and is now fi­nan­cially crip­pled,’’ Mr Macky said.

The trust still owed cred­i­tors money and had been forced to close down, Mr Macky said.

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