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Durban - The former editor of Gold Circle horse racing publication Parade has been found guilty of misappropriating more than R1 million during his time with the magazine.
Fifty-year-old husband and father of three Lance Benson pleaded guilty in Durban’s specialised commercial crime court to six counts of fraud.
He was sentenced to a four-year prison term, suspended for five years, three years correctional supervision and 2 000 hours of periodical imprisonment, which has to be served at Goodwood Prison in Cape Town over weekends.
Benson was working in Durban at the time he committed the offences, but he now lives in Cape Town.
In terms of the plea bargain agreement with the State, he will also cash in a retirement annuity policy and transfer the funds into Gold Circle’s bank account and pay the company R2 000 each month for five years, starting from October.
According to his plea, read out by Legal Aid lawyer Nonhlanhla Kunene, Benson admitted that when he was with the magazine from 2006 to 2009 he arranged for numerous payments totalling more than R1m to be paid into a bank account he falsely claimed belonged to a distribution and courier company. He forged invoices to show the payments had been in return for services rendered.
The account, in fact, belonged to Benson’s in-laws, as did the company address he provided on the fraudulent invoices. Benson also admitted to having taken various amounts, totalling more than R80 000, from petty cash, for his own use.
Benson admitted to a previous conviction of fraud and theft dating back to 1996 when he was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment, two of which were suspended for five years.
Kunene asked that the court consider that her client’s previous conviction was more than 10 years old.