Office worker who stole $133k must declare assets

An office worker who stole $133,000 over a two-year period from a Christchurch company involved in the city’s rebuild has been ordered by a judge to declare all of her assets, including any she may have disposed of, before she is sentenced next month.

Name suppression lapsed yesterday for Katrina Leigh Leoni, 42, who worked as a receptionist and office administrator at Christchurch Ready Mix Concrete Ltd at Belfast.

Leoni, known as Kate Leoni of Swannanoa, North Canterbury, was responsible for receiving cash payments from customers for the well-established locally-owned company.

She was tasked with receipting the cash, balancing the relevant customer’s account and then placing that cash into a container in preparation for banking.

She was also required to enter credit notes against customer accounts.

But between November 2012 and January 2015 she stole cash – thousands of dollars at a time – and put it into her own bank account.

“To cover up her dishonest actions, the defendant would then access the company accounting system and place a credit note against the customer’s bill,” a police summary of facts says.

“The defendant would not re-charge or re-invoice the customers for the credits she had completed. Therefore this had the effect of the customer’s bill having been credited [showing nothing owing]. However, the company never received the cash payments.”

She earlier pleaded guilty to three representative charges of theft by a person in a special relationship, amounting to a total of $133,011.71, at the district court.

The transactions went unnoticed by the company for a long time until an internal audit uncovered the discrepancies.

A police probe further found she had deposited several large amounts of cash into her bank account and in a number of cases the amount deposited matched the amount she stole.

When spoken to by police she denied any involvement in the alleged offending.

Yesterday, she was due to be sentenced before Judge David Saunders.

However, defence counsel David Stringer asked for an adjournment to allow Leoni extra time to see how much her bank would lend her on the lifestyle block she owned with her husband so that she could pay the money back.

Stringer said her ability to pay back money could be the difference between being sentenced to jail or home detention.

Crown prosecutor Karyn South asked for Judge Saunders to issue a direction to try to establish her ability to come up with the money.

Judge Saunders made the order to establish means and assets that Leoni has, or has had in her possession.

“I believe that is appropriate given you have dishonesty traits that you have exhibited in the past,” he said.

He remanded Leoni on bail to June 8.

Interim name suppression lapsed yesterday, with the Judge Saunders saying it was significant offending and there was no reason for it to continue.

“Make no mistake, you are facing the potential of a custodial sentence given seriousness of the offending. If you can make significant reparation, I will certainly have to take it into account,” he said. – NZ Herald

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