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Man used Commonwealth credit card for gambling and drink

Date

Natasha Rudra

A former public servant who used his Commonwealth credit card to steal thousands of dollars which he blew on drinking and gambling sprees will spend the next six months in weekend jail.

Carlo Angelo Malaca, 29, used his work credit card more than 60 times to make unauthorised cash withdrawals from ATMs between December 2010 and May 2011.

He collected nearly $40,000, which he spent on alcohol, poker machines and drugs.

But Malaca told the ACT Supreme Court that he was in the grip of alcoholism, depression and stress at the time and his behaviour was insane.

The court also heard Malaca had been sober for 172 days, was undergoing counselling and was determined to pay back the money he had stolen.

Malaca was given the credit card when he worked for the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and was required to fill out expenses forms every month if he used the card to make purchases.

But in a six-month spree between 2010 and 2011, he repeatedly used the card to withdraw thousands of dollars in cash, which he used to fuel drinking and gambling sessions.

He said he had been waiting to be caught and it was just a matter of time before his employers found out.

When they did, he freely admitted he had been taking the money.

The court heard Malaca had since been fired from the department and now worked for a non-government organisation with a weekend job as a press production officer.

He had already paid back more than $5000 and had a financial agreement with the department to repay the rest over several years.

Malaca gave evidence that he suffered a dysfunctional upbringing in the Philippines that affected his mental health and had been depressed and stressed from the pressure of his job.

He turned to drinking and gambling while out with friends and with his partner and used his work credit card to pay for things.

Under cross-examination from the Commonwealth prosecution, he said he knew what he was doing was wrong but it was not at the forefront of his mind.

''Those six months seem like a blur, my choice was 'should I keep drinking or not, should I stay out or not,' not 'should I take the money out of the machine,' '' he said.

Justice Shane Marshall said Malaca had abused the trust of his employers and stolen money from the Australian people.

But he said the man had shown genuine contrition, which was to his credit, and had made full and voluntary admissions of his crimes.

Justice Marshall noted that Malaca had been affected by depression which clouded his actions.

His addiction to alcohol and gambling contributed to his conduct but did not excuse it. He sentenced Malaca to six months' weekend jail starting on Friday and placed him on a good-behaviour order for two years. Malaca was also ordered to repay the stolen money.

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