A woman stole more than $400,000 from a prominent Auckland couple who say she used it to fund a lavish lifestyle - including her wedding to which they were invited.
Alexandra Ruve Clare Holland spent four years stealing $445,643 from a law firm owned by Auckland Arts Festival chairwoman and high-profile former Auckland councillor Victoria Carter and her husband John Carter.
Holland, 39, worked as Mr Carter's secretary at the law firm and systematically defrauded the business by hiding cheques, which she would later bank in her own accounts, among large groups of documents waiting to be signed, according to a court summary of facts.
Holland pleaded guilty yesterday in the Auckland District Court to the fraud, which Mrs Carter believes was used to fund a lavish lifestyle for the Kohimarama mother and her husband, including their 2011 wedding which the Carters attended.
"It was a lavish wedding for all her friends and family," Mrs Carter said yesterday.
She believed the stolen money was also spent on fine dining at top-end restaurants, luxury clothing, cosmetics and repairs and repayments on three cars, including a Mercedes.
There is no suggestion Holland's husband knew about his wife's actions.
Mrs Carter said her and her husband's trust in Holland had been shattered.
"This has been a most devastating experience for both of us," she said.
"John relied on her to get things done and make his job easier as he had done with all his secretaries over 40 years.
"To have your trust shattered like this has been very upsetting and then there is the loss of all that money."
So far no reparation has been received by the Carters, except for several thousand dollars worth of second-hand quality furniture that wouldn't fit in the Hollands' new home, Mrs Carter said.
Holland declined to comment yesterday, except to say "well, of course there's remorse" when asked if she felt any.
She had earlier pleaded guilty to three charges of using a document to obtain an advantage and one count of entering a false account.
The offences attract a maximum penalty of 10 years' imprisonment.
The summary of facts said Holland worked as a secretary, typist, personal assistant and a semi-legal executive for Carter Bloodstock Limited and other related companies owned by the Carters.
The Crown said that between June 2008 and June last year, Holland hid cheques made out to unauthorised recipients in large groups of documents waiting to be signed in the hope that Mr Carter would miss the frauds.
With the cheques then signed off, Holland had the money deposited in her personal bank accounts and made fake entries in the company's accounting system to hide her crimes.
It was alleged Holland used "a variety of means to carry out this fraud", including forging Mr Carter's signature or altering details on signed cheques. Holland denied forging any signatures.
She will be sentenced next month and her lawyer, Greg Bradford, has requested that Holland be assessed for possible home detention.
The judge granted an assessment be completed but said it was no indication of what the sentence would be.
Mr Bradford said he was seeking a psychologist's report in regards to a mental illness suffered by Holland during the period of her offending.
The offender: Alexandra Holland
The crime: Four years stealing more than $400,000 from her employers.
The spending: A lavish lifestyle including a wedding, Mercedes and fine dining.
The penalty: Up to 10 years in prison - but her lawyer has asked for home detention to be considered.