Nought to show for worker’s $ 1⁄2m
She worked for the firm for 40 years, starting out as a fresh-faced 17-year-old high school leaver.
But by the time Sharyn Joy Ada McFarlane left the Te Awamutu law firm of Edmonds Judd, she’d fleeced them of nearly $500,000.
Police are confident she has stolen more – they just can’t prove it because ANZ bank records go back only seven years. McFar- lane’s got nothing to show for the theft, either.
It appears she frittered away the money on gambling and booze, both of which she is addicted to.
McFarlane appeared in the Palmerston North District Court last month and pleaded guilty to six charges; false accounting by an employee, theft by failing to account, theft by a person in a special relationship, using an altered document and two charges of false accounting.
For 15 years to July 24 last year, she stole $469,139.81.
The police summary says McFarlane is now ‘‘heavily mortgaged and she has significant credit card debt’’.
‘‘She has no equity available to offer as reparation and is essentially insolvent.’’ She also now has health issues and is being cared for by a Palmerston North residential facility.
Fortunately for forensic investigators, they’ve been able to use Edmonds Judd records, which takes the offending back to 1998 with a total 221 separate transactions. But police believe it stretches as far back as 1988, and say they have identified a ‘‘large number of other transactions’’ as ‘‘almost certainly being misappropriations but they have been excluded because of the inability to be entirely accurate’’.
McFarlane began working at the firm in a junior role in 1973, before being promoted to office account- ant in 1995. It was only after she left, in September last year after being made redundant, that her offending began to unravel after the firm was contacted by a client who wanted to discuss their affairs. After digging deeper, investigators found McFarlane’s offending was ‘‘extremely complex’’ and she’d used seven accounts to launder the stolen money.
A further 38 client accounts were found to have funds siphoned from them.
Her method involved taking a portion of funds deposited to the firm and putting it in her own bank account.
Often she would create bogus client requests, sometimes coupled with a legitimate transaction for the client.
The largest single transaction was $10,000.
Edmonds Judd managing partner Simon Brdanovic said McFarlane first came to the firm straight
Caption2: Sir Maui Pomare Day was celebrated at Owae Marae in Waitara on Saturday.