A Hamilton district court in New Zealand has recently jailed a former casino manager and a senior employee of a local school for over 7 years. The court found Tessa Fiona Grant guilty of 10 fraud-related charges after a total of $2.77 million dollars had gone missing in various fraudulent transactions from both of her places of occupation. She will serve at least half of a 7-year, 8-month prison sentence before being eligible for parole. Grant’s charges do not necessarily stem from breaking New Zealand’s gambling laws, but rather for engaging in fraudulent activities.
As a manager at the SkyCity Hamilton Casino she plead guilty to stealing at least $1.98 million from the casino between the years 2008 and 2013. That plea was heard in June of this year. She was the acting general manager and finance manager of the casino, which allowed her the freedom to falsify 71 transactions and route funds to her personal accounts throughout the course of 5 years that she worked there. This casino property focuses on brick and mortar gambling entertainment destinations and does not offer any type of New Zealand online casino games. To our knowledge she did not have access to any type of Kiwi friendly online gambling sites from which to extend her criminal activities.
In January 2016, the court heard another guilty plea from Tessa Grant for fraudulently stealing $795,000 dollars from the Waikato Diocesan School for Girls. She managed to do this as the schools acting commercial manager from December 2014 through August 2015 in various transactions. She has been charged with 2 counts of using documents to gain pecuniary advantages along with 2 more counts of altering documents and three counts of using forged documents. When SkyCity learned of the charges being brought against Grant, they revealed some more irregularities in their books, which lead to further charges being levied.
Her attorney’s defense was centered on the personal hardships that she had faced in the time leading up to the fraudulent activity. The emphasis was placed on the fact that she has recently lost her partner the year before and had financial issues that led her down the criminal path. In trying to establish a clear line of understanding to her crimes, the officiating bodies of the case were not swayed. Her offenses were deemed “clever and cunning” by Judge Philip Connell as he continued to express his reluctance to believe that Grant was merely helping her family.
Grant had used large portions of the money to buy lavish gifts for her self as she was reported to have spent over $50k on jewelry and over $60k on transporting a horse from the UK. She was also reported to have spent a significant portion of the money she had stolen on buying properties she intended on building an equestrian club on. A horse arena, a horse truck, and a $300,000 payment to a member of New Zealand’s performance equestrian team were all cited in the case.