Charity worker faces prison
41-year-old woman stole $4000 from employer
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Between May 2012 and February 2013, Gardener stole $4000, much of it withdrawn from ATMs using the trust’s debit card.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.