Foote vows to fight pokie fraud charges
A former South Waikato deputy mayor and Tokoroa rugby stalwart is claiming blackmail is behind a raft of fraud charges against him.
David Foote, 78, is the Tokoroa businessman facing 17 fraud-related charges.
The charges are understood to relate to the movement of pokie money from his former bar – Footies Sports Bar – to Southern United Rugby Football Club, where he was on the committee.
But Foote, who has owned businesses in the town for more than 50 years, has vowed to fight the charges.
He was not a councillor when the alleged offending occurred.
His lawyer, Fraser Wood, said he understood the Internal Affairs Department inquiry began after a third party made good on a threat to pass on allegations related to his business and the club. The accuser is likely to be a witness in the case.
Internal Affairs declined to provide further details because of the early stage of the prosecution.
The charges were a surprise to Foote, who said he would strenuously deny them and had nothing to hide.
‘‘It wasn’t easy to take when you know there’s no foundations [to the charges],’’ he said.
‘‘We’ll just have to fight our way through it.’’
There had been some suggestion that the root of the alleged fraud was the struggling financial state of the rugby club. Foote emphasised his innocence but he admitted times were tough.
‘‘The rugby club is like all clubs: sponsorship is hard to come by and it’s always hard to get money.
‘‘But we were trying to achieve that through grants and prudent use of money.
After a couple of court appearances so far, Foote said he had great support from family and friends, as well as the backing of rugby club committee members.
‘‘A lot of committee people are unhappy about this as well; everything we did was always through committee approval,’’ he said. ‘‘ At the moment I’m positive and I’ve got a good team who’ll support me all the way but it’s going to be an expensive business to prove I’m innocent.’’
Foote will return to court next month.