The woman who defrauded Sky City Casino in Hamilton of almost $2.5 million over the course of 5 years has been sentenced to 7 years and 8 months behind bars. Tessa Grant, age 41, had recently pleaded guilty to 10 theft and fraud charges throughout the years 2008 up to 2015.
On Monday, she was sentenced in the Hamilton District Court, New Zealand. She was initially charged with stealing a total of $796,000 from the Waikato Diocesan School where she was appointed the commercial manager.
Later on, additional charges were laid in association with her position as finance manager and then general manager at the Sky City Casino in Hamilton where she stole $1.98 million. Sky City Casino only launched an investigation after they learned Tessa Grant was charged with stealing from the school's funds.
At the court, it was revealed that Tessa spent the money on her lavish lifestyle, featuring equestrian sport, which included spending the stolen money to buy a property for a horse arena, a horse transportation truck, and also $300,000+ to an unspecified member of the New Zealand high-performance equestrian team.
Tessa acquired the money from Sky City Casino by utilizing its cheques, draining their account reaching to $1.98 million.
How was her selfish secret finally discovered? A plane trip that the school principal actually didn't take. Surprisingly, they discovered a return flight receipt for $1492. More surprisingly, it's only chump change compared to what they found out next. In April 2015, the Waikato Diocesan School for Girls principal Vicky McLennan and her husband had a scheduled flight to Christchurch, but it turns out that it was Tessa Grant and her husband who took that flight instead. Obviously, the expenses were charged to the school.
The money stolen from Waikato Diocesan School was now paid back with interest and legal costs; however, Sky City Casino is still trying to take back their money via civil court proceedings. Spokesperson of Sky City Casino Erica Jenkin said that so far, the company had spent $500,000 in the investigation of the case.
Chairperson Lynette Pearks of Waikato Diocesan said the school has moved on from its ordeal with Tessa Grant and is in good heart. She said the school has closed the case at the end of 2015 when it obtained full reparation.
According to Crown Prosecutor Ross Douch, Tessa Grant's overriding motivation was merely for personal satisfaction, and aside from the fact that she got caught, she was not in any way remorseful at all for what she had done.
Guyon Foley, Tessa Grant's attorney, said before the court that his client was extremely remorseful and made efforts to make things right. Tessa started stealing money to support a family member, but in the end ‘the perceived need became greed'. "It's unfortunate for her and for SkyCity that her offending ran unchecked for so long."
However, Judge Philip Connell told Tessa Grant that he sees no sincere expression of any evident remorse from her. Regarding Tessa making a full reparation to the school, he said, "You don't get credit for paying back what you shouldn't have had in the first place."
According to court documents, the discovered top payments were:
Petty cash total withdrawals (several cheques), $295,294.50
Classic Horse Coaches Ltd, $281,250
Farmlands Trading Society, $264,418.01
Elizabeth Brown, $232,900.72
Landscape Design Studio, $181,915
GM Ralph Ltd, $135,632.65
Sterling Warmbloods Ltd, $126,500
Vincent Reid, $111,329.94
Jason Bugg, $108,206.90
Michael Bensemen, $75,391.80
Carpet One South Waikato, $66,419.25
Total Holdings Ltd, $61,740
Wackrow Joinery, $44,591.03
The Narrows Landing, $26,222.50
Michelle Grant (a relative), $5000