RSL Manager who Stole From Pokies Avoids Conviction

Pokies Machine
A Victorian woman who stole money from an RSL poker machine said she was diagnosed with a mental illness that led to her thieving.

The Herald Sun reports that Georgina Connell was sentenced to a 24-month adjourned undertaking to be of good behaviour at Heidelberg Magistrates’ Court on January 18, having pleaded guilty to stealing and falsifying a record.

Ms Connell was Watsonia RSL sub-branches gaming manager when she siphoned $13,000 out of the business between June 2018 and May 2019 by pocketing coins intended for the gaming business.

The dodgy employee took the coins instead of adding them to the machines, then updated the sub-branches online system so the records appeared as if the machines did contain the cash.

For the 12 months, she was committing the crimes, 12 to 14 of the club’s 103 gaming machines were each found to have contained $300-600 less cash than records showed.

Ms Connell’s deception was uncovered when a fellow employee found her notebook in May 2019, which contained notes about which machines had the falsified records.

The Coburg woman then confessed to the crimes when she was confronted.

Ms Connell told police she had used the stolen cash to pay off her credit card bills and debts, but when she fronted court, her lawyer said she had been diagnosed with kleptomania, as well as depression and anxiety.

The lawyer said the diagnosis of kleptomania was very rare, with Magistrate Ian Alger agreeing it wasn’t often seen before the courts.

It is a condition when individuals are compelled to steal, even when there is little to gain.

The lawyer said Ms Connell didn’t know why she had stolen the money, with the theft purely motivated by the condition.

“She wasn’t doing this willingly, this was almost a drive to commit this offending, of a compulsive nature, of an obsessive nature,” the lawyer said.

It was submitted that Ms Connell had done everything she could to remedy the situation since being caught, having undertaken monthly counselling and repaid the entire $13,000.

It was heard she sold her possessions at Cash Converters and got a new job at South Melbourne’s Bells Hotel to make the repayments.

Given the case had also been delayed due to COVID-19, her lawyer asked for an adjournment undertaking.

Magistrate Alger said in other cases that amount of money stolen from the employer could well result in jail.

“In this case, I’m satisfied that Ms Connell has not only taken it seriously, but she’s also taken steps to address the underlying issues,” he said.

Mr Alger said he further accepted that having the matter hanging overhead for extra months “weighed heavily” on Ms Connell.

Ms Connell was sentenced to the adjourned undertaking without conviction on the condition she continues to seek counselling and pay $1000 to the court fund.

High roller drops chip theft case against billionaire

casino-chips-money
A punter from Sydney’s Star casino has dropped a high-profile lawsuit against a casino high-roller, a punter identified as being one of the organiser’s of Crown Resorts’ controversial junket program.

The Daily Telegraph reported in October that millionaire Xiongming Xie has links to controversial Chinese billionaire and property developer Huang Xiangmo, the communist-aligned political donor expelled from Australia by the federal government as an alleged “agent of influence”.

Xie was one of the organisers of Crown Casino’s contentious high-roller Chinese junkets, the Supreme Court heard.

The 41-year-old was being sued in civil court by Star punter Qiyun ZHou over an alleged $3.1 million loan made in gambling chips at the casino in 2016.

But on Wednesday, Justice James Stevenson dismissed the proceedings because Mr Zhou had not been actively involved in the case since May and “now appears to be in Vanuatu.”

The court heard that in September, Mr Zhou’s solicitor revealed he had not been able to contact his client “for a long time”, and he may have returned to China.

“The last place that Mr Zhou was known to be was Vanuatu…the other place that he is located potentially is Wuhan city,” Xie’s barrister Margaret Pringle said.

Justice Stevenson ordered Mr Zhou to pay Xie’s legal costs, with Ms Pringle calculating his bills to be around $80,000.

The judge also set aside a freezing order preventing Xie from dealing with his shares and a stunning Sydney waterfront mansion.

Xie had already sold the luxury Hunters Hill home in April but barely made a profit, scoring $800,000 less than the initial $48.85 million asking price.

William Brown

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