Woman at centre of €475,000 forgery case given six-year suspended term


A LOUTH woman who defrauded her employer of €475,000 over a three-year period has been given a six-year suspended sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Lorraine Gregory (37), used the €475,000 in forged company cheques to buy a house and fund the purchase of other luxury items such as an Audi A4 car and a foreign holiday.

The court heard the defrauded company has since stopped trading after years of operating successfully.

Gregory, Forest View, Wheaton Hall, Drogheda, pleaded guilty to 23 sample charges of theft and forgery on dates unknown between August 2001 and March 2004 at telecommunications company Off Air Electronics Ltd in Tallaght.

Judge Patricia Ryan noted the company was taking civil proceedings against Gregory and Bank of Ireland to recoup the rest of the money owed to them.

Gregory has repaid €307,200 of the money and was trying to repay the rest at €400 a month. Judge Ryan imposed a term of six years, suspended in full for four years. She added she was not making any order regarding the repayment of the money because of the civil proceedings.

“Finality needs to be given to the company and the loss to the company has to be taken into account,” said Judge Ryan.

The court previously heard company director Donal Keys entrusted Gregory to compile monthly bank reconciliations and told gardaí he had never had any concerns with her performance. Gregory was also in charge of forwarding newly issued cheque books posted to the company offices directly to Mr Keys.

Det Sgt Pascal Walsh told Tara Burns prosecuting, that in early 2004 Mr Keys became concerned when, after a review of a company bank statement, he noticed two cheques cashed out of sequence with the normal company rotation of payments.

Mr Keys told gardaí that he became suspicious when Gregory said she identified the payments as cheques sent to the Collector General and a freight company, each of whom had cashed their cheques late. A further series of cheques was uncovered.

In interview Gregory admitted to using the proceeds of the forged cheques to fund the purchase of a new car and house, book a holiday abroad and attempt the purchase of a tanning salon in Drogheda.