Former Minister of State, Ned O’Keeffe has been fined €3,500 and given a suspended seven month jail sentence after he pleaded guilty to five counts of submitting false invoices to claim over €3,700 in mobile phone expenses.
O'Keeffe of Ballylough, Mitchelstown, Co Cork was arrested by gardaí this morning and brought before Cork District Court where he was charged with five offences contrary to Section 26 of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act.
Det Sgt Patrick Linehan of the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation told the court that O'Keeffe submitted five false invoices to support claims for mobile phone expenses between July 2002 and September 2009, while he was a TD for Cork East.
The total monies claimed for by O’Keeffe, which were supported by the false or fictitious invoices, amounted to €3,737.50 said Det Sgt Linehan, who told the court that O’Keeffe co-operated fully with the investigation when he was arrested and questioned about the offences.
The court heard that one of the false involces purporting to be from a company called Cavanagh’s Electrical, MacCurtain Street, Fermoy, one from purporting to be from P Connors Ltd, Dungarvan and three purporting to be from TR Motor Services, Harolds Cross, Dublin.
Defence solicitor, Frank Buttimer said that his client had indicated early on that he was going to plead guilty and while various defences may have been available to him, he indicated that he was going to save the state the expense of a trial.
Mr Buttimer said that his client was entitled to claim up to €250 unvouched expenses for mobile phone over an 18 month period but had supplied the wrong paper work when claiming for a further €500 that he was entitled to but which had to be vouched.
Askedby Judge Leo Malone why O'Keeffe had made such claims without the proper paperwork, Mr Buttimer said that it was down his inattentiveness and sloppiness but said that the level of criminality involved was at an extremely low level.
Judge Malone noted that O’Keeffe had no previous convictions and he fined him €750 on each of the first two charges, €1,000 on each of the third and fourth charges while he imposed a seven month suspended sentence on the fifth and final charge.