Client Charged with Fraud Escapes Conviction

Jack Leitner appeared on behalf of a client at Parramatta Local Court who was charged with fraud offences. As a result of our representation, we successfully persuaded the Prosecution to withdraw a number of charges against our client before we persuaded the Magistrate to deal with our client without recording a conviction against our client on the remaining charge.

Fraud Offences at Smithfield, NSW

The victim was a company based in Smithfield, NSW which was part of a global manufacturer, distributor, retailer and services or material handling lift trucks and related technology. In May 2018, the main offender was hired by the victim organisation as a Logistics Manager. One of the main offender’s roles was the organisation of a significant number of casual labour hire staff to work in the company’s Parts Distribution Centre. During the main offender’s employment the main offender referred several fraudulently claimed workers to staffing agencies and provided documentation such as registration forms, tax file number declaration forms and identification forms in support of those fraudulent staff referrals.

In early 2019, the main offender recruited our client to participate in this fraudulent scheme. Our client fraudulently referred out client as an employee of the company and billed numerous hours under our client’s name. To facilitate this fraudulent activity, the main offender persuaded our client to provide documentation, including personal identification documents to enable the main offender to fraudulently complete an application form, a tax file number declaration and a superannuation declaration form. At no time was our client an employee of the victim company nor did our client perform any work for the victim.

As a result of our client’s part in the fraudulent scheme, the victim company suffered a financial loss of $31,835.18. The fraudulent scheme was brought to light some time later and our client was arrested by the Police in October 2021 and charged with a number of fraud offences.

Proceedings before Parramatta Local Court

Our client contacted Australian Lawyers and Advocates after being contacted by the Police and sought advice from our highly experienced lawyers and advocates. We advised our client to exercise their right to silence and to decline to be interviewed by the Police. Our client was charged with offences of Knowingly Deal with Proceeds of Crime under section 193B of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) and Dishonestly Obtain Financial Advantage by Deception under section 192E of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

The offence of Knowingly Deal with Proceeds of Crime under section 193B of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) is a strictly indictable offence, meaning that this charge could not be dealt with in the Local Court of NSW but would have instead been dealt with in the District Court. We sought to convince the Police to withdraw this charge however the Police laid a lesser alternative charge of Dealing with Property Suspected of Being Proceeds of Crime under section 193C of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). Not content with this disposition, we continued negotiations with the Police regarding both charges of Dealing with Proceeds of Crime and our representations to the Police were ultimately successful. Both charges of Dealing with Proceeds of Crime were later withdrawn and dismissed, leaving our client’s matter being able to be finalised in the Local Court in respect of the charge of Dishonestly Obtain Financial Advantage by Deception.

The evidence against our client was compelling in respect of the Dishonestly Obtain Financial Advantage by Deception charge. Although our client was to enter a guilty plea, we undertook significant negotiations with the Police to amend the Police Facts Sheet.

We meticulously prepared our client’s case on sentence including having our client obtain character references and having our client referred to a Forensic Psychologist. We then prepared submissions highlighting the compelling and unusual features of our client’s case to put our client’s best case forward to the court on sentence.

Outcome

The offence of Dishonestly Obtain Financial Advantage by Deception under section 192E of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment on Indictment. The jurisdictional maximum for a single offence in the Local Court is 2 years imprisonment. Our meticulous preparation of our client’s case and our persuasive advocacy enabled us to have the court make several positive findings about our client on sentence. We highlighted our client’s previous good character, the circumstances surrounding our client being involved in the fraudulent scheme, our client’s voluntary cessation of offending, our client’s remorse and many other factors which were considered by the court in our client’s favour on sentence. Our ability to highlight the cumulation of positive features of our client’s case, notwithstanding the inherent seriousness of our client’s offending, swayed the Magistrate towards taking the unusual course of finding the offence proved but dismissing the charge against our client without recording a conviction. Given that courts have routinely held that matters involving fraud require condign punishment, our representation and presentation of our client’s case on sentence secured an excellent result for our client.

Why Choose Australian Lawyers and Advocates?

Fraud offences are serious. This case highlights the importance of engaging lawyers who are highly knowledgeable and experienced criminal law lawyers and advocates.  It is important that you consult with an experienced criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible after you have been charged with or are likely to be charged with an offence. Many law firms claim to be ‘the best’ or ‘leading’ firms. At Australian Lawyers and Advocates, we let our results, reputation and high level of client service and satisfaction speak for themselves.

The content contained within this article is expressed as a general guide as to this area of law and is not intended to contain legal advice specific to an individual’s case. If you, or someone you know has been charged with a criminal offence and requires legal advice, do not hesitate to contact Australian Lawyers and Advocates to discuss any criminal law or traffic law matters further.

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