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Time to accept blame for fraud, judge tells woman

By Court Reporter


A woman who defrauded a volunteer organisation of nearly $7000 was yesterday told by a judge she could no longer deflect blame from herself.

Alana Megan Seconi, 43, a customer services representative of Wanganui, appeared in the Whanganui District Court charged with 16 counts of using a document for pecuniary advantage.

She had earlier pleaded guilty to all charges and had since repaid the money to the organisation, a volunteer support group affiliated with the New Zealand Fire Service.

The court heard Seconi's husband was treasurer of the group at the time of the offending.

Defence counsel, Stephanie Burlace, applied for name suppression but this was declined as Judge Dugald Matheson said a report showed many of those involved believed Seconi had sought to shift attention and blame away from herself.

"I feel it would be a great injustice if your name was not published. I'd be wrong to be complicit in hiding you in this way. To suppress the names of others involved would be to cause suspicion.

It is you who is before the court - no one else. It is you who is in the dock.

"I'm not going to play along with you on this any longer," he said.

Ms Burlace said her client had been diagnosed with depression after the offending and the publishing of her name could lead to her emotions "spiralling out of control".

"You could perhaps see this as a cry for help. There certainly wasn't any financial need for the offending," Ms Burlace said.

Given the "uniqueness" of her surname she said Seconi's family would suffer if it were published, and she would lose her job, but Judge Matheson said the public interest outweighed these submissions.

"When the community is defrauded those in the community deserve to know. You stole from an organisation that offers a lot of good to the community. You breached their trust."

Judge Matheson convicted Seconi on all charges and sentenced her to 100 hours of community work.

- WANGANUI CHRONICLE

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