Jail for cocaine addict who took $310k of bosses' money

AS THEIR profits took a nosedive, the people employing Leonie Marie Hartas weren't sure what was wrong.

They dipped into their own superannuation fund to help the business, but all the while their own employee was conning them.

Former Ipswich woman Hartas conducted the $311,000 cheque fraud over four years, Brisbane District Court heard on Wednesday.

Despite Hartas paying none of the money back since her arrest, a judge accepted the 42-year-old fraudster's remorse was "genuine".

The court heard Hartas worked as an admin officer and took money using 182 cheques to enrich two of her own back accounts.

She forged signatures and disguised her nefarious deeds by writing false entries in Brisbane company PDU Trading's financial registers.

Judge Nicole Kefford said the amounts Hartas hoovered up each time varied from about $700 to about $3500.

The court heard Hartas was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 25 and had post-traumatic stress disorder too.

Judge Kefford was told Hartas endured racist bullying when growing up in Ipswich.

Later, she had abusive partners, including one who got her hooked on cocaine.

"She could not do the offences unless she was under the influence of drugs," Hartas's defence counsel Dymphna Hawkins said.

Hartas had been in custody since February 26 last year and taken Bible study courses in prison.

"It seems your most recent time in custody has caused you to reflect on your poor conduct," Judge Kefford told the fraudster.

After pleading guilty to one charge of fraud over $30,000, Hartas was given six and a half years jail.

She will be eligible for parole after serving two years, two months. However 458 days in custody have been counted as time served.

Judge Kefford said Hartas had three previous convictions for similar fraud offending. -NewsRegional

News Corp Australia

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