Council worker in court for theft

AN office administrator has been ordered to repay more than $23,000 she embezzled in goods while working for Clarence Valley Council.

Junction Hill woman Cherie Gai Van Vyfeyken pleaded guilty to eight counts of embezzling as a clerk or servant in Grafton Local Court yesterday.

The court was told the 32-year-old ordered more than $23,000 worth of goods with council money. She then either kept the goods or sold them to acquaintances.

The main items embezzled were 12 Husqvarna chainsaws worth almost $2000 each. She also ordered a tool storage cabinet worth $126, which police said she gave to her husband for his birthday.

Van Vyfeyken started working at the council in 2005 as an administration assistant. She was stationed at council's South Grafton depot when her offending began in August last year.

Van Vyfeyken's role at the depot included ordering and invoicing materials for council projects. Police got involved when staff noticed irregularities in her work.

The investigation resulted in Van Vyfeyken admitting the offending to detectives at the end of last year.

She told police she spent the money on her children, saying she felt inadequate because she couldn't afford to give her children as much as other family members did.

Standing before the magistrate in jeans and a cardigan, Van Vyfeyken was yesterday sentenced to nine-month suspended sentences on four charges and 12-month good behaviour bonds on the other four.

Sentencing magistrate Kim Pogson said the offending was serious because she was in a position of trust with her employer and there was an element of premeditation.

“It's not an isolated incident,” the magistrate said.

“All these offences occurred on different dates. It was a course of action taken over a period of time and not a one-off offence.”

Mr Pogson said the offences warranted a jail sentence, which he suspended because of Van Vyfeyken's clean record.

Van Vyfeyken was also ordered to pay council $23,363.44 compensation.

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