Doggies stripped of $600,000 by 'deluded' finance officer
The former finance officer with the Western Bulldogs football club has been jailed for fleecing it of more than $600,000.
Jason David Hucker, 30, stole money from the club on an almost daily basis for two years until November, 2010.
The County Court today heard that Hucker stole cash takings from the Whitten Oval merchandise store and off-site game-day stores.
Prosecutor Michael Hannan said earlier that Hucker also dishonestly obtained a financial advantage by deception through unauthorised credit reversals.
Mr Hannan told Judge Irene Lawson that Hucker was a heavy gambler and had four telephone betting accounts and accounts with other agencies.
Hucker, who was sacked by the club in 2010, earlier pleaded guilty to two charges of theft and a deception-related offence.
In her sentencing remarks this morning, Judge Lawson told Hucker he had caused great personal trauma to the club and his co-workers who were subjected to internal and police investigations because of his initial denials.
Judge Lawson said his serious offending had many aggravating features, including its gross breach of trust and that “not one cent of the money has been repaid to the club”.
She noted it was a not-for-profit organisation and that Hucker's offending had a component of greed as he maintained a lifestyle where much of the money went on horse ownership, air fares, a car and living expenses.
In mitigation, Judge Lawson noted Hucker's age, lack of previous criminal history and the affect of the sudden death of a sister had had on him.
She noted his history of compulsive gambling since early adolescence and that after his sister's death, his gambling “spiralled out of control” as a form of escape.
A psychiatrist found that Hucker was “tormented” by his actions but was “self-deluded” that he could repay the money.
A forensic psychologist said Hucker had a multi faceted anxiety disorder and had used gambling as “an escape valve” to escape stress and the difficulties from the loss of a long-term partner.
Judge Lawson agreed to reduce his moral culpability to an extent because both experts agreed that jail would aggravate his mental health conditions, but she said in “no way does it excuse your offending”.
She also referred to defence lawyer Anthony Brand's plea submission about the prevalence of gambling in society but she told Hucker he was aware that what he was doing was wrong and so must bear responsibility for his actions.
Judge Lawson agreed with Mr Brand's submission that a longer than normal parole period be imposed and she assessed his prospects of rehabilitation as good.
Hucker was jailed for four years and ordered to serve a minimum of two years and six months.
Judge Lawson also made a compensation order that he pay the club $604,840.
Western Bulldogs CEO Simon Garlick told Fairfax Media this afternoon that the club was satisfied with the sentence and looked forward to putting the matter behind it.
Mr Garlick also said that most of the money had been recovered through insurance.