Ex-health CFO gets one year jail for fraud offences
VERONICA Anne Chung trembled as Magistrate Peter Hasted handed down a jail sentence for fraudulent conduct as the acting Chief Finance Officer of the South West Hospital and Health Service from 2014-15.
Chung was convicted on Thursday in the Roma Magistrates Court for offences relating to fraud, dishonestly obtaining benefits, uttering forged documents and compounding indictable offences .
In sentencing her to 12 months with a non-parole period of four months, Magistrate Hasted said her offences involved a degree of “calculated, cynical and deceitful conduct”.
“You initially attempted to resist legitimate inquiry by the detectives... for your dishonest behaviour,” he said.
“The aggravating features of this group of offences are that there was a degree of premeditation and planning; you were in the position of authority responsible for a substantial amount of public financial resources.”
The court was told as the acting CFO of the SWHHS, Ms Chung attempted, in October 2015, to purchase an iPad using a co-worker’s signature on the tax invoice receipt. This was was rejected after a banking error.
She further attempted to hide her conduct by sending a co-worker to obtain the footage and conceal it herself from the organisation.
Ms Chung was also found to have forged her degree she claimed to possess when she applied for the job at the SWHHS.
Magistrate Hasted also considered the statement from a co-worker of Chung, who was left “catatonic...[and] shocked” from her actions.
“This caused me to stress and anxiety [sic] to the point where I am unable to effectively concentrate on my work,” Hasted read from the statement.
“Veronica’s actions have affected my trust in the health organisation and my ability to progress my career...[and] I am still affected and emotional by the betrayal of trust...[with] this criminal offence,” the magistrate read from the statement.
Hasted took into account her timely plea of guilty and her service within the SWHHS, where she was described as a person of “good standing” by Chief Executive Officer Glynis Schultz.
“You didn’t just walk into the role of CFO with the SWHHS; you were invited to do so because of your qualifications and skills,” he said.
“You have provided a degree of productivity, output and benefit to the SWHHS according to the statement from Glynis Schultz.”
But Mr Hasted said it was appropriate that she faced imprisonment for all of the offences.
“It is appropriate and no more severe in all the circumstances that you be sentenced to terms of imprisonment for all the offences before the court,” he said.
“Your offending is another example of the attempted misuse of the public purse for private gain.”
Chung will be eligible for release in October.