Cape Town - An accountant who stole R150 000 from her employer because she was “underpaid” has until the end of October to repay the money in full, or face five years in prison.
Dawn Nelson, 45, a mother of two, admitted guilt to 124 counts of fraud when she appeared in the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crime Court, Cape Town, on Friday before magistrate Sabrina Sonnenberg.
She was sentenced to five years in prison, suspended for five years, on condition that she repay the money by the end of October.
Her lawyer, Dudley Herman, and prosecutor Zama Mtayi, agreed that the circumstances called for a suspended prison sentence, but on condition that she would face five years in prison if she breached the condition to repay the money.
Her lawyer said Nelson would repay the money in monthly instalments of R2 000, starting next month, but would pay the balance in a lump sum at the end of October, from the sale of her house.
Nelson was the accountant at the company Du Worte Wooden Products in Parow, Cape Town, and fraudulently diverted money into her own bank account between July 2009 and April 2012.
Sonnenberg said the purpose of the suspended prison sentence was to deter Nelson from committing fraud again.
“If you do this again, the chances are strong that you will go to prison,” she said.
Sonnenberg said Nelson had abused her position of trust. She said Nelson would struggle to find another job as an accountant, as word about what she had done, and that she could not be trusted, would travel fast.
“You are not worthy of the title of accountant,” Sonnenberg said.
Nelson’s employer had not bothered to check her bank statements, and had “trusted her blindly”.
An aggravating factor was that Nelson and her employer had belonged to the same church congregation and knew and trusted each other.
If Nelson felt she were underpaid, she should have discussed it with her employer, Sonnenberg said.
“You cannot just steal from her.”