In an amazing turn of events, the woman who was caught red handed stealing money from a military training facility is no longer required to repay the money.
A whopping $225,000 were stolen by Paniparewhakaro Elizabeth Rangiuia at the Waiouru Military Training Facility.The case has also led to a Court of Inquiry into the management of non-public funds in the Defence Force.
The reason for stealing such a large sum of money came down to Rangiuia’s gambling addiction.
Had the conviction gone ahead as planned, Rangiuia would have needed quite a few decades to pay back what she stole. Rangiuia had proposed paying back the amount at a rate of $50 a week which would mean that it would take her 4500 weeks, or 86 years and six months, to pay back $225,000!
As Rangiuia entered the court room, a large group of supported were present outside waiting for Rangiuia to be convicted for her crimes. Rangiuia entered the court room carrying a packed bag, an indication that she was ready to sent away to prison for a long time.
Judge Jonathan Krebs however did not believe that prison would be the most appropriate place for Rangiuia. Instead she was sentenced to 12 months’ home detention.
She was also banned for two years from going into a casino or any betting establishment. This was on top of the 250 hours community work that she has been ordered to do as well.
Rangiuia was a long serving employee of the Defence Force, having worked for more than three decades. Her crimes was related to the mismanagement of non public funds at the Waiouru Military Training Facility.
The public funds were either gifted or raised by army personnel and were to be used for services including well being, health and retention.
Rangiuia had access to a total of four bank accounts relating to 25 social or sporting clubs. This also included access to an account set up by the Second New Zealand Calvary Regiment during World War II. This account was used to fund students attending light-armoured vehicle courses.
In order to embezzle the funds, Rangiuia would forge signatures on cheques and falsify cash books. This was done to cover up the stealing which had been going on for the past seven years.
The money stolen by Rangiuia eventually ended in the pokies at at the Oasis Hotel in Waiouru.
She put most of the stolen money through the pokies at the Oasis Hotel in Waiouru. For seven years, her crimes went undetected and it was only after she had confessed to her manager in 2018 that they were brought to the military camp’s attention.
As per Defence lawyer Michele O’Sullivan, Rangiuia had every intention to pay back the money. However, as her addiction grew so did the debt and she soon realised that she was not going to be able to pay it back.
Rangiuia feels horrible for what she has done and has complied with every aspect of the investigation. However, it does not change the fact that she stole public money.
Crown prosecutor Dale La Hood made it clear to the judge that the money belonged to taxpayers and club members. La Hood acknowledged that despite the damage caused by accused, the reason for her crimes was casino related and not a case of high living.