Manager wrote $36,000 of cheques for herself

AN OFFICE manager stole $36,000 from a building firm by having her boss sign blank cheques and making them out to herself, an Ipswich court heard.

Deborah May Blanco, 52, was employed with Steve Parcell Builders as an accounts manager and was trusted to manage office records and payroll accounts.

Blanco had been friends with Mr Parcell and was his trusted accounts manager. She would regularly need her directors to sign cheques for paying clients, but would then write them out to herself and steal the money.

Ipswich District Court heard between June 2005 and November 2011 Blanco took $35,569.79 from the company through 20 transactions.

Blanco pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud and was sentenced to two-and-a-half years' prison, to be suspended after nine months.

The court heard Blanco was able to pay the full amount in restitution through a trust account with her lawyers.

Defence barrister Steve Kissick said his client, who didn't have a criminal history, was usually diligent and trustworthy, and that no clients had missed out financially because of Blanco's dishonesty. Mr Kissick couldn't explain the reason for Blanco taking the money, as she wasn't in financial stress at the time.

Mr Parcell told The Queensland Times he wouldn't wish the fraud upon anyone.

"This is something you can only hope that you never have to deal with when running a business," Mr Parcell said. "You have to trust the people you employ so I guess that is why it does hit hard when you find out this type of thing has been happening."

Judge Greg Koppenol said the fraud was "elaborate and planned" and Blanco had abused the trust of her employer by stealing from them over many years.

Judge Koppenol said despite restitution about to be repaid in full, the accused would still have to spend actual time in prison.

"An offender should not be able to pay his or her way out of jail - it is fortunate your fraud didn't ruin the business," Judge Koppenol said.

Topics:  fraud ipswich district court

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