A WOMAN who pilfered close to $200,000 from her employers to feed her pokies habit, continuing to embezzle even after her thefts were discovered, has been jailed for at least nine months.
Mother of two Agnes Pashen, 40, told dentist Dr James Davies almost daily that she would repay the $143,500 she stole after his accountant, while investigating the reason behind the dental practice’s financial failings, discovered the missing money.
Over more than four years, the dental nurse and bookkeeper overpaid her own wages, duplicated payments using internet banking and wrote unauthorized cheques.
She blew the money on pokies and house repayments, the County Court heard. Chief Judge Michael Rozenes said Pashen committed a “serious breach of trust” and continued to thieve, even after Dr Davies allowed her to continue working for him with certain conditions.
During that time, Pashen did book work for a plumber, from whom she stole more than $37,000, bringing the total amount stolen to $181,221.
The plumber reported the thefts to police, who later discovered she had been stealing from the dental practice.
Pashen pleaded guilty to six counts of theft, representing the more than 200 times she stole from the businesses.
Defence counsel Kenneth Oldis said his client had a tough upbringing and suffered depression and anxiety as a result.
He said the Mill Park woman was “frozen with terror” about the prospect of jail time.
Judge Rozenes said the thefts from two small businesses were too serious to warrant any other sentence than immediate imprisonment.
“Thefts by employees are pernicious and particularly so in small businesses, where levels of scrutiny are usually low and hence much reliance is placed on the integrity of trusted staff,” Judge Rozenes said.
The judge said this type of offending was also notoriously difficult to detect and could have deleterious consequences to the ongoing viability of the business, as it did in this case.
Dr Davies told the court his business reputation had been affected by the deception, as well as his credit rating and his hopes of a self-funded retirement.
The judge acknowledged Pashen – who had one unrelated prior – had good prospects of rehabilitation and was unlikely to re-offend.
He sentenced her to two years imprisonment, with a nonparole period of nine months.
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