Grafton Courthouse Photo Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner
Grafton Courthouse Photo Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner Adam Hourigan

EXPLAINED: How a Grafton company was defrauded $137,000

A GRAFTON woman who defrauded her employers of more than $137,000 over five years using a company credit card, disguised personal purchases as business expenses.

Jana Audrey Clark, 35, pleaded guilty to a single count of obtaining property benefit by deception for offences that continued from 2010 to May 2015.

>> Grafton victims of $137,000 fraud devastated by court ruling

Between 2010 Clark stole more than $137,000 from her employer, DRA Architects disguising personal purchases on the company credit card as business expenses. These are the year by year figures the company and police uncovered cross referencing bank statements.

  • 2010 - $1139.70
  • 2011 - $6449.46
  • 2012 - $40,693.29
  • 2013 - $26,097.18
  • 2014 - $42,980.36
  • 2015 - $20,299.07
  • TOTAL - $137,659.06

She received an 18-month good behaviour bond and was ordered to repay $137,656 to her employer, DRA Architects Pty Ltd when she appeared for sentencing in Grafton Local Court on Monday.

In her police statement Clark described the reason for the theft as "a single mother living beyond her means."

Company director Warren Steele was devastated at the betrayal of the trust he and his staff had placed in Clark after employing her in June 2009.

In a victim impact statement the company submitted to court, he revealed Clark had received pay rises, promotions and increased responsibility in a short time.

  • June 2009: Employed as secretary: $33,000
  • September 2009: End of probation pay rise: $2000
  • June 2010: Promoted to administration manager, pay rise: $5000
  • September 9: Pay rise of $2500. Wage: $42,500
  • Christmas 2010: $1000 bonus
  • June 2011: pay rise of $2500
  • 2011 Christmas bonus of $1500
  • December 2012 pay rise $2500. Wage now $47,500
  • 2012 Christmas bonus of $1000
  • 2014 Christmas bonus of $250, not banked.

Mr Steele said his company had financial difficulties from 2012, which meant he had to lay off two staff, closed the comapny's Tamworth office and cut back the hours of other employees, including Clark. The two directors, Mr Steele and Adrian Borsato, also injected cash to keep it afloat.

Despite these difficulties, Mr Steele said Clark continued to raid the company coffers, putting the future of the company at risk.

"Due to her repeated behaviour our practice was at risk of becoming insolvent at various times, staff were themselves placed in uncomfortable financial situations which included other staff members not being able to meet mortgage repayments without finding additional employment and having to put off the purchase/ build of their new home," he said in the victim impact statement.

"The amount which was misappropriated by Jana Clark had serious implications. Such an amount not being readily available to run the business was damaging to the point that the viability of the firm was under real threat, with devastating consequences for all employees and their families.

"It is particularly difficult to comprehend that Jana continued with her actions when she was acutely aware of the difficulties being faced/ experienced by both the directors and her fellow employees."

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