Townsville Bulletin

Embezzler sent to jail


5, 6, 5, 5, 7, 0

Div1: $51,318.45 Div 2: $6666.00 Div 3: $666.00 Div 4: $66.00 Div 5: $6.60

A FORMER lawyer and businesswo­man who embezzled more than $1m from her family owned company to buy shares will spend 12 months of a five-year sentence behind bars.

Gail Susan Borello, 51, swiped hundreds of thousands of dollars from the bank account of TAG Realty Investment­s Pty Ltd – the company she owned with her two brothers – from 2007 to 2013.

The former Legal Aid lawyer, who went on to open a law firm and fish and chip shop in Ingham, appeared in the dock of the Townsville District Court on Friday.

In front of her family present in the public gallery, Borello pleaded guilty to one charge of fraud as a director to the value of $30,000 or more.

Crown Prosecutor Scott Collins said when the siblings opened the property investment company in 2000, Borello was “trusted” to be the manager because of her law degree. It was agreed the company’s profits would be split equally between the trio but she started transferri­ng funds without their consent or knowledge, directly from the business account into one of her dozens of bank accounts.

She then used the money to invest in the stock market, a venture, defence barrister Darin Honchin said, that “did not go well” because of the global financial crisis in 2007.

Mr Collins said in 2014 one brother became suspicious and found there had been several “large withdrawal­s dating back to 2007 from the company account”.

She eventually told her family she had “blown $600,000” and promised to pay them back.

Mr Collins said while she had “dishonestl­y obtained” more than $1m over that time, she had only paid about $41,000 and $35,000 to her brothers for their roles in the business.

Of the total amount taken,

Borello lost $439,869.79, and returned about $579,000.

Tendering a psychologi­cal report to the court, Mr Honchin said Borello had long suffered from various mental and physical health problems.

First admitted as a lawyer in 1995, Borello owned a law practice in 2003, and worked briefly at Legal Aid in Mackay in 2012, but had not been licensed to practise since 2014.

Mr Honchin said her references described her as a “hardworkin­g and conscienti­ous” person. He submitted that a term of imprisonme­nt be suspended after 12 months, because her mental health would make prison an “onerous” experience.

Judge Paul Smith said Borello’s plea was not an early one, as the matter had faced years of legal problems involving Borello’s mental health concerns.

Taking into account her mental health and family hardship, the judge sentenced her to five years’ jail, suspended after serving 12 months.

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