5 high profile cases of fraud on the Clarence Valley

THE defrauding of DRA Architects is not the first case of corporate fraud in the Clarence Valley. Here are three high profile cases from recent times.

1. Ex-Centrelink employee stole to pay drug debts

DANIELLE Walker, of Wooli, pleaded guilty in February to five counts of dishonestly obtaining financial advantage from a government agency by deception between November 2013 and February 2014.

She was working at the Yamba Service Centre at the time.

In sentencing Walker for offences that could have resulted in a maximum jail term of 10 years, magistrate Robyn Denes noted she had to walk a fine line of providing general deterrence for a serious crime and dealing sensitively with an individual case.

"It's a serious level of fraud because she used her position of trust to access funds she was not lawfully entitled to," Ms Denes said.

"Those matters always attract a heavy penalty."

2. Massive art fraud comes to Grafton

DOZENS of d'Arcy W Doyle paintings sold in Grafton last year for tens of thousands of dollars could have been fakes.

Art dealer Ronald Coles, who brought his d'Arcy W Doyle Memorial travelling art show to Grafton in December has gone into hiding after more than 100 disgruntled customers from across Australia have contacted NSW Police.

Allegations included the selling of forged paintings and also accepting money for art works and then re-selling the same piece.

A report in the Sun Herald on Sunday claimed the art dealer was allegedly involved in one of the 'largest art frauds of its kind in Australia'.

The Sun Herald story included a personal account from Bruce Bushell, of Yamba, who was reported to have paid $80,000 to Mr Coles for what he was told were Doyle originals.

"I bought three Doyle's from Ron's Grafton exhibition. A few hours later, he rang and said he had a fella who had hit the wall financially," Mr Bushell said.

"He told me 'He's got Doyle's and you can have them cheap."

The Sun Herald stated of the six paintings Mr Bushell bought, only the first one was genuine.

3. Jailed for insurance scam

A MACLEAN father with a "habit" of cashing hundreds of thousands in dodgy insurance cheques will spend at least the next two Christmases behind bars.

Andrew Oaten, a former financial loss adjuster, was working around Coffs Harbour and Grafton when he assumed a false name and made out a whopping 155 false insurance cheques.

In the name of Neville Sanders and N. Sanders, Oaten generated the Suncorp Insurance claims, provided an innocent business owner's ABN and then drew the money out of an ANZ account in his wife's name.

His actions eventually caught up with him when he was arrested and charged with several counts of fraud-related offences.

4. Fraudster put behind bars

THERE is no way John Xavier Berlin could have been a police officer, after being convicted of child-sex offences and spending two years in a Queensland jail.

That was the conclusion drawn by magistrate David Heilpern when he sentenced Berlin to 12 months behind bars at Grafton local court in August 2011.

"Mr Berlin, you have never been a police officer," he said.

"That is the source of all these problems."

When delivering his verdict Mr Heilpern said he had to take into account some of the offences occurred while Berlin was on a good behaviour bond.

He said he did a lot of research into similar cases and Berlin's history to bring to an end "a long-running set of matters".

"I don't think there are any cases in NSW that I can find where a person takes impersonating a police officer to the extent Mr Berlin does," he said.

Mr Heilpern described Berlin's creation of an alter ego as a police officer as delusional and police exhibits of evidence as chilling.

5. Race caller rips off Commonwealth

NORTH Coast race caller admitted in November 2012 to ripping off the Commonwealth more than $200,000 through dodgy tax refunds.

Rodney Fuller pleaded guilty in the Coffs Harbour Local Court on Tuesday to 46 offences relating to false claims made over a period of 13 years.

The majority of claims, made on behalf of himself and others, were worth between $20,000-$50,000.

For more than 20 years Fuller, who is based in Coffs Harbour, covered meetings in Grafton, Taree and Lismore for Sky Racing.

He resigned in September when he was charged with 30 counts of obtain financial advantage by deception, nine counts of producing false or misleading documents, five counts of defrauding the Commonwealth and two further counts of attempting to obtain financial advantage by deception.

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