Legal secretary embezzled €109,000 from solicitor
A 45-year-old legal secretary who embezzled €109,000 from her employer has had her case further adjourned to allow for compensation to be paid.
Pauline Maher, of 34 Lawcus Field, Stoneyford, Kilkenny, pleaded guilty before Wexford Circuit Criminal Court to eleven counts of dishonestly appropriating money from now retired New Ross Solicitor, Simon W. Kennedy.
When the case was called before Judge Barry Hickson, the defendant was arraigned of two further charges to which she also pleaded. She had previously pleaded guilty to dishonestly appropriating cheques for various amounts, the property of Simon W. Kennedy on dates between April 1, 2008, and May 31, 2010.
Replying to Prosecuting Counsel Sinead Gleeson, Det. Garda David Flynn told the court that the defendant had pleaded guilty to eleven counts amounting to a total of €109,000. The discrepancies were first discovered in client accounts in May 2010.
Det. Flynn said that Mr. Kennedy initially confronted the defendant in August 2010, and that she left his employment on that date. After a full investigation by Mr. Kennedy, he made a complaint to gardai the following month.
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Det. Flynn said Pauline Maher subsequently made full admissions. She left a letter for Mr. Kennedy which very clearly outlined full details of what had occurred, but despite the admissions there was a lengthy investigation.
The defendant, he said, is 45 years of age, with one son, but separated. She had two previous convictions of larceny.
Damien Colgan, Defence Counsel, said that as soon as she was confronted by Mr. Kennedy's son, she left some documents in the office, including bank statements and a narrative indicating how much she had taken.
Mr. Colgan said the defendant has said she is very sorry and ashamed for what had happened. When she was originally contacted by gardai she had admitted herself to hospital and suffered from depression and suicidal inclinations. He also said the admissions made by her assisted the investigation greatly for had the matter proceeded to trial it would have been a lengthy trial. At an early stage, October 31, 2014, she entered a plea to some counts and subsequent counts today.
He said that Ms Maher had suffered significant debts which had her under significant pressure, leading to her mismanaging the money to ease her own situation. She has a house which is in negative equity. He said the family are not in a position to pay the full €109,000 but she is endeavouring to put some money together for Mr. Kennedy.
The defendant, he said, had expressed remorse and complete admission of guilt for what had happened. She was very energetic in her lifestyle and always in gainful employment but she has not worked since this. At the moment she is in receipt of social welfare and disability allowance.
At stages when Mr. Kennedy met her, she did hand over some money, amounting to about €2,700 so far. Mr. Kenned,y to his credit, has been very magnanimous towards her.
Judge Hickson said a considerable amount of money was taken and asked what it was used for.
Mr. Colgan said there is a complete Probation and Welfare report before the court outlining the full facts. He said the defendant is not in gainful employment at the moment. She had found herself in a position of trust, but this kept rolling over and over, and eventually had to come to a head. When statements were looked at it was seen that money had gone into her own account. On the day of leaving, she left behind documents outlining in detail how this was done.
Mr. Colgan also said his client was in a position to hand over about one-fifth of the amount owed to Mr. Kennedy, but it could take a few weeks to put together. He realised this is just a starting point and asked for an adjournment to the end of July.
Judge Hickson said he would certainly adjourn the matter to that date in order for Maher to come up with what money she can. 'I will make no promises,' he said, remanding the defendant on continuing bail to July 28.