A Hawkes Bay woman who stole more than $660,000 from her employer sat at a desk next to the owner of the business she was fleecing while she created hundreds of fake invoices to be paid into her own accounts.
Vicky Lee Kyle, 35, was sentenced today at Napier District Court to three years and two months' imprisonment after previously pleading guilty to 10 charges of using a document for pecuniary or financial advantage.
Kyle had worked as an office administrator at the business she betrayed for 17 years. She was responsible for paying creditors and wages to other staff members, a position that allowed her to pay company money into her own accounts.
Judge Geoff Rea described the offending as motivated purely by greed and called Kyle a "determined thief".
"You ripped off somebody else to improve your own lifestyle...You single-mindedly pillaged your employer for six and a half years with little thought for the owners, their livelihoods and their families, the other employees, their livelihoods and their families."
Judge Rea suppressed the name of the business and the business owner but described how close knit the company had been.
"Some of the employees had been there for 30 years, people who had worked a decade were called newcomers. You sat at a desk right next to the owner. You would have been well known and respected.
"A business such as this cannot afford to be pillaged. It is remarkable the business was able to continue."
The emotional harm done was likely to be "lifelong".
The Judge also noted how the offending ultimately came to an end. He said it was bank intervention that finally brought the crimes to light.
"This was not a case where your guilty conscience got the better of you."
When Kyle's offending was uncovered documents were found which had been set up for future payments. Judge Rea said this indicated an intention to continue making the payments into her own accounts long-term.
Kyle's lawyer, Eric Forster, said his client had paid back over half of the money she had stolen and had liquidated all of her assets to do so. He said the assets indicated a lifestyle beyond the means of the money she had rightfully earned - though details of what she spent the fortune on were not revealed.
The outstanding balance of the debt stands at $315,000 but only $50,000 is to be paid back in reparation at a rate of $25 a week, with the first payment due two weeks after her release from jail.
Judge Rea took into account the reparation but noted none of the money had been invested - rather Kyle had spent it all on herself.
Beginning in June 2006, when Kyle had been with the company for 10 years, she would create false creditor invoices in the business' accounting software system and process them for payment along with genuine invoices. The payments would be approved before Kyle would change the name and bank account numbers to her own.
She used a rural fuel card belonging to the business to put petrol in her own cars amounting to $3768.03.
Kyle also charged purchases to the business' Mitre 10 account without deducting the amount from her own wages, as was company policy. This amounted to $1333.93.
The offending continued until January this year, when the fraud was finally uncovered.
In a statement to police, Kyle said she was suffering depression and she took the money as it enabled her to do things which made her feel better.
In his closing address Judge Rea said he was doubtful about the legitimacy of the depression.
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