Prison sen­tence for col­lege thief

Western Leader - - IN BUSINESS - BROOKE BATH

A wo­man who stole nearly half a mil­lion dol­lars from Auck­land’s Lynfield Col­lege has been sen­tenced to 28 months in prison.

She spent it on over­seas trips and clothes.

Rhonda Crabb, 64, had been em­ployed at the school for 19 years.

She was found guilty of the theft of more than $419,000 over a sev­enyear pe­riod.

Judge Kevin Glubb heard the money that was taken came from school do­na­tions, com­mu­nity spon­sor­ship, and course fees.

Crabb was the school’s ac­counts man­ager.

When the theft was dis­cov­ered Crabb ad­mit­ted to feel­ing a ‘‘rush’’ from spend­ing the stolen money.

She said it helped to ease her feel­ings of lone­li­ness and de­pres­sion.

Crabb was sen­tenced at the Auck­land Dis­trict Court on Jan­uary 17.

The judge said the crime was so­phis­ti­cated, well thought out, and a care­fully con­trolled scheme.

‘‘This was a cyn­i­cal and gross breach of trust by you,’’ he said.

Crabb was em­ployed as the school’s ac­counts man­ager be­tween 1996 and Novem­ber 2015.

Court doc­u­ments al­leged the em­bez­zle­ment of funds took place be­tween 2007 and 2015.

Crabb orig­i­nally pleaded not guilty in June last year.

Later she ad­mit­ted to have stolen the money.

Lynfield Col­lege prin­ci­pal Steve Bo­vaird said in an vic­tim im­pact state­ment that Crabb’s ac­tions had af­fected stu­dents and staff.

He said she was a trusted col­league, had strong re­la­tion­ships with other staff mem­bers, and was con­sid­ered a ‘‘good friend.’’

‘‘I have al­ways trusted Rhonda and I feel be­trayed by her ac­tions,’’ Bo­vaird said.

He said the theft put the col­lege out of pocket for land­scape shad­ing as well as other in­fra­struc­ture devel­op­ment it needed.

Stu­dents and par­ents who had made pay­ments were chased as the money was recorded as out­stand­ing, Bo­vaird said.

Crabb’s de­fence coun­sel said she had vol­un­tar­ily made sig­nif­i­cant repa­ra­tion and had ex­pressed re­morse.

She had also en­gaged in restora­tive jus­tice meet­ings with Bo­vaird.

Judge Kevin Glubb sen­tenced Crabb to 28 months in prison.

Crabb had name sup­pres­sion but it was lifted when she ap­peared for the sec­ond time at the Auck­land Dis­trict Court on June 17 last year.

‘‘I have al­ways trusted Rhonda and I feel be­trayed by her ac­tions’’

Lynfield Col­lege prin­ci­pal Steve Bo­vaird

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