A lettings agent who stole nearly €70,000 in tenant deposits from his employer over a two-year period to fund his gambling addiction has been given a suspended sentence.
Richard Power (35) routinely logged into his leasing agent employer’s system and changed the bank details of tenants who had made deposits at the start of their lease and needed to be reimbursed, the Circuit Criminal Court has heard. Dublin.
Power changed the tenant’s bank details to his own personal bank details in order to receive the refunded deposit, Garda Dabhach Dineen told prosecutor Diana Stuart BL. He then restored the account details before anyone noticed.
Power, with an address in Tudor Lawns, Foxrock, Dublin, pleaded guilty to one count of theft from his employer, Wyse Property Management Ltd, between June 2018 and June 2020. The amount he stole was amounted to €69,530, the court heard. He has no previous convictions.
In handing down her sentence today, Judge Elma Sheahan noted that Power had now repaid all but around €7,500 of the stolen funds through a combination of her own savings and money from her parents.
The judge said the fact that he suffered from a gambling addiction does not excuse the offence, but puts it into context. She said she had no doubt he learned a valuable lesson and paid a price for what he did.
Judge Sheahan sentenced Power to three years in prison, but suspended the sentence in its entirety on strict conditions, including that he repay the outstanding amount within six months.
At an earlier sentencing hearing, Gda Dineen said Power had been employed as a lease negotiations manager by the company for four years. Her duties included visiting and inspecting properties, drafting leases and liaising with tenants. He had 75 to 80 properties in his portfolio.
In May 2020, his supervisor became aware of tenants who were awaiting a security deposit refund and had been unable to contact Power. When the supervisor discovered that no deposits were being held for tenants, an audit was ordered for all Power properties.
A number of anomalies were discovered and Power was called in for a meeting. He admitted he manipulated accounts and stole money from the company to fund a gambling addiction. He said he was taking counseling for the addiction.
Shortly after, Power reimbursed his employer €10,000, the court heard. He is currently unemployed, living on property owned by his parents, and receiving Pandemic Unemployment Benefit.
He has since lost his property management license and was fined €5,000.
Dean Kelly SC, defending, said Power cooperated fully with gardaí when they questioned him about the theft. He told them, “I just want to tell the truth.
Mr Kelly said Power was “constantly” playing with friends, as is often the case with young men in their 20s and 30s.
“No sport was watched, no business was kept without gaming being a part of it,” Mr Kelly said. Power also racked up debt by playing card games, the court heard.
Mr Kelly said Power suffered from mental health issues and was continuing his rehabilitation process. He is unlikely to re-offend, the court heard.