A Sunday school teacher has been jailed for swindling $75,000 from her employer to pay for family ceremonies such as weddings and funerals.
Taafili Rose Taoso, 32, dabbed tears from her eyes as she was sentenced to four years’ jail, suspended after one year, for fraudulently obtaining $75,785 from industrial manufacturer Envirosmart Pty Ltd over three months in 2013, when she was employed as an accounts clerk.
The Brisbane District Court heard the dedicated Christian and mother was deeply involved in the local Samoan community and spent the money on a family trip to the Pacific island nation and for funerals, weddings and “Samoan culture”.
Crown prosecutor Jane Shaw said Taoso tampered with supplier invoices on 10 occasions to cause payments of between $2000 and $17,000 to be deposited into her or her husband’s bank account.
The deception was uncovered when a supplier twice complained of non-payment and the company conducted an audit.
Ms Shaw said Taoso repaid $500 and begged the company director not to press charges, explaining that she had felt pressure from her family to pay for things.
Defence barrister Lisa Hughes said the money was spent on family, none of who were in court to support Taoso because the mother-of-one was so ashamed.
“She’s well involved in the Samoan community and she’s also a dedicated Christian, so this has had ramifications for her family and for herself,” Ms Hughes said.
Judge Michael Noun said the jail sentence reflected the seriousness of the crime while taking into account Taoso’s otherwise good character and the fact the money was not spent on “the high life”.
“You are, as they say, a very close-knit family. You have a Samoan background and there is a tradition in Samoan families that they help each other,” he said.