herald

Thursday 19 October 2017

Callely to face sentencing after guilty plea to expenses fraud

Ivor Callely
Ivor Callely

FORMER junior minister Ivor Callely will be sentenced on Monday for fraudulently claiming mobile expenses at Leinster House while he was a senator.

The case was adjourned to allow counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions to make submissions on whether Callely's former position as a senior politician is an aggravating factor in the case.

Judge Mary Ellen Ring put it to counsel that "a politician is a person in position who in effect sets the legal parameters on which everyday people operate and when they offend against the legal parameters they effectively say: 'Do as I say not as I do'."

Callely (56), of St Lawrence's Road, Clontarf, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to four counts of using invoices believing them to be false instruments between November, 2007, and December, 2009, at Leinster House, Kildare Street while he was a member of the Seanad.

The court heard he used invoices from defunct businesses to claim expenses under an Oireachtas scheme which allows members to claim €750 for mobile phones every 18 months.

After Callely became aware of the scheme in August, 2007, he began submitting for expenses at 18-month intervals.

He also submitted retrospective invoices from his time as a TD.

invoices

He fraudulently claimed a total of €4,207.45 using six invoices.

The court heard that during his garda interview in 2012, Callely suggested a former business partner, who was dead by that time, was responsible for the fake claims.

The fraud came to light when a journalist sought details of some of these expenses using a Freedom of Information Act request. This prompted Callely to withdraw the claims and repay some of the expenses.

Gardai then began investigating and discovered two of the companies which Callely claimed sold him the phones were no longer in business.

Defence counsel Michael O'Higgins SC said his client has suffered greatly, both personally and professionally, because of the charges.

He asked Judge Ring to consider imposing community service instead of a prison sentence.

Judge Ring remanded Callely on continuing bail until July 28, next. The maximum term for the offence is 10 years and an indeterminate fine.

Callely, who was a member of Fianna Fail, served as Minister of State in the health and transport departments and was later appointed to the Seanad where he remained until 2011.

hnews@herald.ie

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