A woman accused of defrauding the Hastings District Council of more than $500,000 has admitted taking $384,000 for personal use.

Opal Taylor, formerly the manager of the Hastings Sports Centre, pleaded guilty to 14 fraud charges last year but disputed the sum, claiming she only took a "fraction" of it.

The 61-year-old was due to have a disputed facts hearing this week but this didn't go ahead after she admitted taking $384,666 for personal use.

Taylor ceased working for the council early last year when internal processes disclosed invoice irregularities.


She started working at the centre in 2001 on a casual basis and became the manager in March 2003, with responsibility for the management of budgets and accounts.

Prior to working for the council she had been involved in running the Hawke's Bay Paraplegic and Physically Disabled Association Incorporated, otherwise known as "Parafed HB'.

In March last year a special council team undertook a review of all council facilities and identified a number of invoice irregularities.

They extracted all Parafed HB invoices paid by the council dating back to July 2004.

When spoken to by management Taylor admitted writing out the invoices but claimed they were for genuine expenses. She refused to make a statement to police.

Subsequent investigations revealed that between July 2004 and March 2017 she submitted 195 false invoices in the name of Parafed HB totalling $537,683.

She pleaded guilty to 14 charges of using tax invoices or statements to dishonestly obtain a pecuniary advantage before Judge Max Courtney on September 12 last year.

However at a later hearing her defence lawyer Bill Calver raised an issue relating to reparation amount of $537,683 being sought.


At that hearing Mr Calver said Taylor owed less because the council was provided with cleaning and transport services, albeit illegitimately, and the amount that ended up in her pocket was a "fraction" of the sum.

Although she received the full amount into the Parafed HB account, subsequent analysis determined genuine cleaning and transport services had been provided to the centre and paid by the defendant from the account totalling $153,017.

Taylor will appear for sentencing next month where reparation totalling $384,666 is sought.

Last year a Hastings District Council spokesperson the council had reviewed and introduced additional audit processes and controls as a result of Taylor's offending.

"The matter is still within the court process however council reiterates it has zero tolerance toward fraudulent use of council funds and assets."

The maximum penalty for each of the fraud charges is seven years' imprisonment.