Lismore gambling addict goes to jail



A NORTH Coast woman who embezzled $309,000 from her employer was jailed yesterday .

Leonie Gay Schlieper, 52, of Kyogle Street, Lismore, pleaded guilty in Tweed Heads Local Court yesterday to stealing $309,000 from MIB Pty Ltd, a property developer, at Silverwater, Sydney, between 1994 and 2004.

Counsel for Schlieper told the court his client was the bookkeeper for the company when, in October 1994, she took the first $1000 out of desperation to pay for air fares to see her mother who was dying of cancer.

For the next 10 years Schlieper took cash to feed her 'pathological gambling habit'.

Police told the court that the money had been used for gambling by Schlieper and her then husband, and their change in lifestyle.

Unable to stop, and unable to tell her boss that she was doing wrong, Schlieper wrote a $19,000 cheque to herself hoping to be found out, her solicitor told the court.

The bank noticed the erroneous cheque and alerted the company. But Schlieper's boss, thinking stress must have caused his employee to write the cheque, gave her the day off.

In April, 2004, the company employed an accountant to review the books and the thefts were discovered.

Schlieper's boss did not want to lay criminal charges and, came to an agreement with Schlieper and her husband to recoup the money through the sale of their family home and an investment property.

Schlieper's husband quit the relationship, taking with him the lion's share of the money and leaving Schlieper with only $10,000.

Counsel for Schlieper said a psychiatrist's report outlined that Schlieper had suffered depression since the late 1970s and she also suffered as a pathological gambler.

Magistrate Jeff Linden jailed Schlieper for 18 months with a six-month, non-parole period.

A bail application failed pending an appeal to the District Court over the severity of the sentence.



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