A registered valuer who attempted to defraud a beef farming association with fake documents and used his near-blind mum as a witness has lost an appeal to have his conviction dismissed.
Garry Desmond Lopes was sentenced in July to 180 hours' community work by Judge Ajit Singh in the Auckland District Court for making a false document with the intention to obtain property.
Today in the High Court at Auckland, Lopes appealed the judge's decision to convict him and sought a discharge without conviction. He did not appeal the guilty verdict following a judge-alone trial.
Involved in the wagyu beef industry for several years, Lopes was the director and shareholder of Pure New Zealand Wagyu Limited, according to Companies Office records.
His father, the late Ken Lopes, was also one of the founding members of the original wagyu association in the 1990s, before Lopes attempted to resurrect it in 2014.
At Lopes' sentencing, the court heard how the former property specialist for Auckland Transport and commercial valuer for Quotable Value attempted to withdraw $10,500 from the association's ANZ account last year by using fake general meeting minutes.
The papers had the names of those who had given no consent to the financial moves, nor were at the meeting.
In an explanation for his offending, Lopes said he wanted to freeze the account to stop others he feared were attempting to access the money.
Judge Singh said Lopes' offending was at the "upper end of the moderate scale of seriousness".
"Particularly when the document you prepared was without the consent of people who you said where present at that meeting," he said.
"The witnesses to the document included your mother who has serious sight impairment and a friend who in the evidence said he had not read the document."
Judge Singh ruled Lopes was attempting to deposit the funds into his bank account, but was only stopped when ANZ blocked the transfer from a fixed deposit account.
Lopes' lawyer Kevin McDonald said his client had offended out of frustration and a "sense of loyalty to his father".
Today he said his client accepted his actions were "foolish and the worst decision of his life".
Hearing the appeal, Justice Mark Woolford said it appeared Lopes was acting out of self-interest.
"In my view, the deliberate premeditation of Mr Lopes' offending means it cannot he considered minor," he said.
Lopes, who has been a registered valuer since 1988, said in an affidavit that his conviction would likely discourage any company from employing him.
But Justice Woolford said any prejudice in applying for new jobs was a consequence of his offending.
"I do not consider that the [discharge without conviction] threshold has been met," he said when dismissing the appeal.
Lopes resigned from Auckland Transport (AT) when he told the organisation he was facing criminal charges.
An AT spokesman said there was nothing to suggest there was anything "untoward" during Lopes' time working for the organisation.